With the prevalence of visual stimuli in today's society of what's "normal," it should come as no surprise that more people than ever have become afflicted with what's known as body dysmorphic disorder. What is exactly this mental illness though? For those unfamiliar with its more technical term, body dysmorphic disorder is the overarching title to a wide range of mental illnesses, some of its more infamous names are anorexia and bulimia. As the internet continues to entrench itself in our daily lives though, body dysmorphic disorder has evolved to include a new affliction that affects men all across the world: bigerexia of the penis.
- 1 What is Bigerexia?
- 2 What Are Other Common Forms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
- 3 Knowing the Difference Between Healthy Interest and Obsession
- 4 What Are Some of the More Extreme Examples of Obsession?
- 5 What Are the Dangers of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
- 6 How to Seek Treatment
- 7 Where Do We Go From Here?
- 8 Sources
What is Bigerexia?
While body dysmorphic disorder is primarily concerned with making people imagine themselves as having imperfections that others don't see, bigerexia of the penis causes those afflicted by it to become obsessed with penis size. Unfortunately, given that it's a mental illness, those suffering from bigerexia will never be satisfied with the length of their penis. Luckily, there are treatment options for those afflicted by bigerexia, which we will discuss in detail. First, it's important to discuss the other types of body dysmorphic disorder, so that the course for treatment can be better understood as well.
What Are Other Common Forms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
As body dysmorphic disorder can manifest itself under a wide range of monikers, the precise signs and symptoms are actually quite large. In particular, if you find yourself unnaturally preoccupied with your looks, or carry a strong belief that you have an abnormality that others refuse to acknowledge, then these might be warning signs of something more serious. Additionally, if cosmetic procedures you've had in the past left you feeling unsatisfied, or caused increased self-consciousness, then it's worth considering a visit to a doctor for a diagnosis.
It's important to remember that these warning signs can apply to any part of the body. Some of the common body parts that patients suffering from body dysmorphic disorder have become obsessed over include the nose, hair, skin, acne, breast size, and genitalia. Unfortunately, despite the commonality of these symptoms, some people may find themselves too ashamed or embarrassed to see a doctor for treatment. This affliction does not treat itself on its own though, instead leading to further complications that can potentially result in harmful behavior.
Knowing the Difference Between Healthy Interest and Obsession
When it comes to bigerexia especially, there are many that are simply genuinely interested in increasing their penis size. Knowing when to draw the line though between a healthy curiosity and an unhealthy obsession is important though, as something that alters your body won't give you satisfaction if your brain is constantly looking for faults.
In fact, scientists have found links to body dysmorphic disorder from a wide range of both internal and external sources. Neurotransmitters in the brain have been found to affect both the mood and patient's perception of their body if the chemicals are not properly balanced. Additionally, some sufferers of body dysmorphic disorder have been found to have certain parts of the brain that have improperly developed, leading to the unhealthy obsession that dominates their lives. As previously mentioned, as our culture adapts to constant visual stimuli in the form of the Internet and social media, our perception of ourselves has also changed to become harsher. It's hard to watch a pornographic video of a man with a gigantic piece of "equipment" and not wonder if that's how it's supposed to be for everyone and you're just the one that drew the genetic short straw.
What Are Some of the More Extreme Examples of Obsession?
Researchers have estimated that roughly one percent of the world's population suffer from body dysmorphic disorder. Of this portion of the population, the three countries with the largest studies come from the United States, England, and Italy. In today's era of reality television and constant communication through the Internet, it should come as no surprise that these three countries in particular have the most extreme examples of bodily obsession. Of course, body dysmorphic disorder can also take on vary forms depending on the country of origin. In Asian countries, such as Japan, body dysmorphic disorder can take the form of an obsession with the eyelids, something that is not as commonly found in Western countries.
In the West though, support groups have begun to spring up that offer a place for men to come together and relate stories of their small penises to one another. As surprising as that may seem, physicians have noted that more men than ever are undertaking an experimental and risky procedure to have their penis surgically enlarged, even if their penis is statistically of average size. Even considering how many are "normal," it has been estimated that only around thirty five percent of these surgical patients are satisfied with the results.
What Are the Dangers of Body Dysmorphic Disorder?
There are many complications that can arise from body dysmorphic disorder if left untreated. Some of the more obvious ones include a fear of social gatherings, low self-esteem, and a lack of intimacy. Other, more serious, complications include suicidal thoughts, severe depression, and repeated visits to the hospital due to eating disorders or substance abuse. With proper help from a trained physician, overcoming these complications can be done with time and dedication.
How to Seek Treatment
If you honestly feel that you might be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, the first step should be to immediately schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. After consulting them and discussing your concerns, the next step may vary. They might direct you to a psychologist, or they might suggest you seek one out on your own. Either way, it's important to take an active role in seeking treatment, which coincidentally will also be the most difficult. Curing a mental illness can take time, and it will certainly be difficult, but few even make it to the admittance stage, and for that you should feel proud.
When preparing for your appointment, make a list of the questions you'd like answered, as well as what you want to accomplish from your treatment. By being prepared ahead of time, you can make the most of your discussion with your physician and better plan your path towards a more fulfilling life.
The tests that your doctor will run are primarily a series of both medical and psychological tests to help pinpoint a specific diagnosis from beneath the large umbrella of diseases that body dysmorphic disorder is. Ultimately though, the effectiveness of these tests will depend on both your honesty and openness. Doctors won't know to test for something if you are not vocal about your concerns. In order to be properly diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, your doctor must find you to specifically be suffering from the symptoms as laid out by the American Psychiatric Association. These specific symptoms are an extreme preoccupation with an imagined or minor defect, as well as severe distress resulting from said preoccupation.
In order to have an effective treatment that will last, it's important to above all be persistent in your participation. Treatment stems primarily from both behavioral therapy and medications. The most common medication issued is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, otherwise known as an SSRI. Unfortunately, the FDA has not approved any medications for the specific treatment of body dysmorphic disorder, but psychiatrists have worked around this by prescribing medications that are commonly used to treat depression to help combat this mental illness as well. The previously mentioned SSRI is an effective combatant against body dysmorphic disorder as it helps to control obsessive or repetitive behaviors. As this is the most common manifestation of body dysmorphic disorder, it makes sense that an SSRI would help to curb the affliction while also helping to assuage the depressive symptoms that are also commonly associated with it.
Of course, finding the right medication for your body and your brain's chemical make-up can be a tricky process. It often takes as much as twelve weeks to find the right "cure" for a person's body dysmorphic disorder, and relapses are a common occurrence once a patient has been weened off a drug.
Behavioral therapy, on other hand, focuses on helping you to adapt your social behavior to a healthier alternative, as well as encouraging you to lead an active social life without having to constantly check the mirror. This type of therapy is more than just a cure, it can also help to improve your mood and feelings, keeping you in a healthy frame of mind that will last long after your treatment session has ended.
Hospitalization is a possible treatment option, though it is often reserved for the most severe of cases. In general, it is only considered for those that pose an immediate threat to themselves or others, and have been proven to be incapable of properly caring for themselves.
Alternatively, some have decided to go under the knife in pursuit of their perfect body. As discussed elsewhere though, cosmetic procedures are the least effective treatment option, as the obsessive and depressing components of body dysmorphic disorder will not disappear just because the body part your obsessing over has made a change. Giving your broken down car a new coat of paint won't make it run any better, and your brain is still going to find areas to be disappointed in even after you've recovered from the surgery.
Where Do We Go From Here?
With a better understanding of both body dysmorphic disorder and bigerexia in particular, you are better prepared to reflect on your own life and the parts of your body that you're curious about. While it's a good idea to consider body dysmorphic disorder as a possible cause for any symptoms you might be suffering, it's also important to take a step back and consider the reality of them before taking any drastic measures. Curiosity is healthy, as is wanting to improve yourself, and neither feeling should give you cause for alarm. If you discover that you do in fact have body dysmorphic disorder, then be sure to follow your treatment plan as outlined and don't ignore any warning signs. Stay active and take your medication as directed and it won't be long before you're free to live your life the way you want to. For everyone else, staying knowledgeable is the first step to being better prepared for the future.
Mayo Clinic's Guide to Body Dysmorphic Disorder
The AAFP's Study on Body Dysmorphia Across Cultures and Genders
AlterNet's Look at the Modern Male's Obsession With Penis Size