History of BDD
Theories of Causes
Personal Accounts

Glossary of Terms

History of BDD

I've read contradictory information on the history of BDD. If I remember correctly, most information insists that the disorder has been recorded for over a century, and was first documented in 1886 by the researcher Morselli, who gave it the initial title Dysmorphophobia. It makes you wonder how the media could play much of a role in causing BDD, if television and movies weren't even around back then! Body Dysmorphic Disorder was first recognized as a distinct condition in 1987 by the American Psychiatric Association.

I've read elsewhere that BDD was first recorded over a hundred years ago by Emil Kraepelin, a German living in the late 1800s who could be credited as the founder of modern scientific psychiatry, psychopharmacology and psychiatric genetics. He believed in biological causes of disorders and greatly opposed Freud's psychoanalytic methods. In my opinion, both Freud and Kraepelin had good theories, and they don't have to stand entirely separate. Psychological problems can be both biological and psychological, and neither aspect should be neglected. Either way, Kraepelin considered BDD a form of compulsive neurosis.

Pierre Janet, the founder of modern dynamic psychology living in the late 1800s, called this body obsession de la honte de corps, translated to obsession with shame of body.

Freud actually had a patient himself with BDD. His name was Sergei Pankejeff, but he was nicknamed "the Wolf Man". This person was so preoccupied with his nose, that he found it hard to function outside of these obsessive thoughts. Since I'm studying Freud at the moment, I'll try to get a copy of the original German text as soon as possible, read it, and write up more information on this subject.

BDD was supposedly widely recognized in Europe for some time, but was first recognized as a typical somatoform disorder in the DSM-III in the 1980s. They decided to rename the disorder from dysmorphophobia to body dysmorphic disorder because they believed the old term implied to the presence of a behavioral pattern of public avoidance.

It's also recorded that many patients with BDD have other disorders as well. Patients often have OCD, schizoid personality, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I've heard of several other disorders that often exist with BDD as well. In the future, I'll try to include more information on these disorders as well. In the meantime, you can find links to information on these disorders on the links page.