What is BDD by Proxy?
Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) by proxy, experience impairment in their daily lives due to intrusive concerns about another person’s appearance. The person of concern (PoC) may be a family member (e.g., spouse, child, parent, or sibling), partner, friend, or stranger. In some instances, individuals may be concerned with more than one person’s appearance. Concerns may include, but are not limited to, a daughter’s “crooked” nose, a father’s “short stature”, or a fiancé’s “thinning hair”.
Individuals with BDD by proxy often spend excessive time scrutinizing the PoC or comparing their appearance to that of others. They may also try to improve the PoC’s flaws (e.g., taking the PoC shopping for appearance-related items or suggesting surgery). This can contribute to a reduced quality of life marked by impaired interpersonal relationships (e.g., avoidance of the PoC or fear of termination of the relationship with the PoC), shame, and distress associated with the obsessive beliefs. Many individuals report a fear of isolation or rejection due to their association with the “disfigured” individual.
Treatment for BDDBP
We currently offer CBT for body dysmorphic disorder by proxy, which focuses primarily on changing maladaptive thoughts and behavior patterns; thus, improving interpersonal relationships with the person of concern. Treatment may focus on changing the way an individual feels about another person’s appearance and may help an individual become gradually more comfortable in anxiety-provoking situations.
For more general information regarding treatment, please read our Treatment Approaches page on our website.
How our program can help:
Our program specializes in evidence-based treatment for BDD by proxy with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. For more information, please contact our intake coordinator at 617-726-6766.