History of BDD
Theories of Causes
Personal Accounts

Glossary of Terms

Theories on the Causes of BDD

Here, you will find several theories on the causes of BDD. It is not certain what causes the disorder, so everything you read is entirely based on opinions, which have been based on collected evidence. Expect to see more theories posted in the near future. If you would like to submit your own theory to this section, please email it to

Personal Theory

I believe that everyone has gotten BDD in a different way, but there is a common trend in most of our cases. These are the factors that I believe will form a case of BDD:

1. Outside circumstances made you feel different than others as a child. This can be done in several ways. It can be through abuse from parents, with an emphasis on neglect. It can also be caused by siblings, friends, or teachers making you the outcast, scapegoat, or teasing you. In fact, one comment pointing out your differences can be all that it takes. Something else that I've noticed is that a severe case of the skin disease vitiligo can leave a person feeling like an outcast, or different than others. Just having people notice the problem and ask questions about it can make you feel as if you are not human like everyone else.

2. You experienced some sort of severe trauma that left you with such immense feelings that you were unable to express them. This trauma will vary from person to person. Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse are common themes. Death of loved ones, rape, accidents, developing a terminal disease, etc.

3. Most people with BDD hoard their feelings and never let them see the light of day. Many were forbidden to express feelings as children. Others lived in environments where they never learned that it was normal to talk about pain. Some were so embarrassed by their traumas, and felt guilty about them, that they didn't ever tell anyone what happened. BDDers who were abused sometimes have poor social networks, and therefore only talk to their families. If they were the abusers, they are the last people that would be sympathetic to your past trauma. Either way, BDDers are boiling over with angry, traumatic, and shameful feelings that they never expressed, and still don't know how to, and have decided to just put a lid on it! To cope with such agonizing, stressful thoughts, BDDers create a coping mechanism, BDD, to dissociate from the pain. During a BDD attack, BDDers will be closest to feeling the pain of the original trauma. This is what causes suicidal feelings, because it is far too painful to handle.

Katharine Phillips' Theory on Brain Chemistry Imbalance Katharine Phillips has come up with the idea that BDD is caused by a chemical imbalance that was most likely genetically passed on from family members that have OCD or anxiety disorders. She claims that BDDers have a deficiency in production of the neurotransmitter called Serotonin, and recommends that they take certain drugs called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, which are commonly called antidepressants and affect mood and motivation. These drugs, such as Prozac and Luvox, block the uptake of Serotonin from the synaptic space back into the presynaptic axon terminal