BALLET DANCERS AND MODELS ARE NOTORIOUS for obsessing about their bodies. But what about art historians, fashion designers and architects?
A recent study of people who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), an obsession with imagined or slight imperfections in appearance, suggests they are more likely to have an education or occupation in art and design.
A group of researchers in London studied 100 people with the image disorder and compared them with groups of people with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Artists, designers and people who have been to art school were five times more likely to suffer from BDD, according to the study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
"An occupation or education in art may be a risk factor for BDD" says lead author David Veale, M.D., psychiatrist and senior lecturer at the University of London. "But we don't know whether it is a cause or an effect."
One theory is that those interested in art are more aesthetically minded, which may carry over to a more obsessive evaluation of their own body. Another possibility is that an education or practice in art or design fosters a more critical eye.
"The findings don't surprise me" says Roberto Olivardio, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Harvard Medical School. "I think that people who are artistically inclined might be more visually sensitive."
The idea for the study was sparked when Veale noted that many of his patients with BDD seemed to be preoccupied with art or design. They were either educated or employed in fine art, art history, graphics, clothing or textile design.
"To better understand BDD, we need large epidemiological studies to figure out whether the prevalence of BDD is higher in particular cultures, countries, socioeconomic groups and occupations," adds Katharine Phillips, M.D., an associate professor at Brown Medical School.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Sussex Publishers, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group