Change Your Appearance, Solve Your Problems? Aesthetics and Trauma

Change Your Appearance, Solve Your Problems? Aesthetics and Trauma

The eminent child psychologist John Bowlby proposed that as children we all require a ‘Secure base’ –  a sensitive caregiver who gives us a sense of security and a safe base from which to explore and to return to when feeling vulnerable. Without a ‘secure base’ to return to we can grow to constantly feel vulnerable and insecure in ourselves and our ability to relate to the world and others. Later in life this can impact on how we view ourselves, our relationships and our response to challenges from others.

Often, as a child, if we are not provided with a secure base we can also lack emotional support, and even experience emotional neglect.   Lacking emotional support and without a secure base from which to challenge the world a child may experience continually high – potentially traumatic – levels of stress and isolation: with no one to turn to for comfort we can feel sad and worthless; lacking in self-esteem. Without having developed the confidence a secure base provides we grow to doubt ourselves.  This can result in a serious impact on our ability to develop resilience and face challenges.

Emotional Neglect as Trauma

Our body and nervous system experience neglect in a way that is similar to abuse.  Adults with histories of neglect often develop a range of emotional and mental health issues including low self-esteem, depression, and even aggression.  Neglect often leads to feelings of being unwanted and unloved, which can lead to low self-worth and a distorted perception of the self.

This distorted self-perception of our physical appearance resulting from childhood neglect can lead to BDD through the belief that we are deeply flawed and unacceptable to others because of our physical appearance.  In their 2009 research Crocker, Elias, Feldman, & Coleman (1)reported finding emotional neglect in both males and females diagnosed with BDD.

Trauma can be cause by a single abusive event or short period of neglect, or as a result of a continual process of neglect or repeated abusive incidents.

BDD as a result of an incident or trauma

Mind, the mental health charity, states that:

‘Experiencing abuse or bullying can cause you to develop a negative self-image and may lead you to have obsessions about your appearance. This is particularly true if you experience abuse or bullying when you are a teenager, when you may be more sensitive about the way you look or how your body is changing’ (https://www.mind.org.uk) 

REWIND THERAPY FOR TRAUMA TO RESOLVE BODY DYSMORPHIA

Psychotherapy and counselling has long been recommended for both trauma and BDD.   Many have been helped by methods such as exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  However, most of these approaches require painfully repeating experiences or require you to repeatedly re-tell, or even re-live, the traumatic events – possibly making them worse and often very traumatic on its own.

Rewind is known as “closure without disclosure” because it requires none of this.

Simply let the therapist know the ‘headline’ of the incident in as much or as little detail as you are comfortable with – that way we can work with you more securely and respectfully.

CBT may be helpful with BDD because it helps the person understand where the negative thought patterns are coming from and teaches how to replace the unhelpful behaviours with positive ones.  However, it does not remove the emotion from the trauma or help ‘heal’ the trauma(2).  It has also been demonstrated (3)how a ‘thought process’ occurs before a behaviour and the behaviour does not always match the emotion caused by the thought process.

In simple: we think (psychological process)before we feel (emotion) and then respond (behaviour). So to fully remove the need for the harmful behaviour requires the thought process and emotion of the event to be resolved properly.

Researchers are not yet quite sure on the actual mechanics of how Rewind works but my clients report that it helps remove the emotion from the memory of the experience and to ‘reframe’ the experience as a past event and not one constantly ‘threatening you’ in the present.  Simply; they are less troubled by the past, so do not need to fear a situation in the present.

That means you do not have the worry (emotion) so do not need to respond with a behaviour that follows it (constantly worry about what people think makes you repeatedly check your appearance or want to change your look).  That means you are more in control of yourself and your emotions and more confident in how you deal with things – and other people.

At the same time, the NHS recognises that Person-centred counselling can be effective in resolving depression and anxiety, both of which can occur with trauma.  This approach can also support Rewind therapy as you might now find it meaningful and helpful to share the impacts of the event more fully with a supportive person – in a way you are in control of.

With Lincs PCA & Rewind Therapy you will receive Rewind Therapy backed up by the proven person-centred approach from a trained, qualified and experienced counsellor/psychotherapist who follows a code of conduct laid down by their ethical body.

References

1. Carey, WB., Crocker, AC.,Elias, ER., Coleman, PR. (2009) Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Edn 4.  Editor Feldman, H. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2009 ISBN 141603370X, 9781416033707

2.  Neziroglu F, Khemlani-Patel S. A review of cognitive and behavioral treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. Cns Spectrums. 7: 464-71. PMID 15107768DOI: 10.1017/S1092852900017971

3.  Barrett, Lisa Feldman (2017). How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 161–162. ISBN978-0-544-13331-0.


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