Body dysmrophic disorder (BDD) is typically thought of as a problem affecting women, but men also suffer from the disease. Nathaniel Asselin, of Cheyney, Pennsylvania, was one of those sufferers. “A shaving nick or a small blemish, or even just a bump under the skin would keep him in front of the mirror for hours, applying small pieces of Band aid to cover up the marks,” said his mother Judy.
Nathaniel spent hours and hours staring in the mirror, poking at pores and worriedly examining non-existent imperfections. Starting in the fifth grade, he began missing school, too tormented by his perceived imperfections to get out of bed.
Eventually Nathaniel’s distorted image of his body became too much to bear. In April of 2011, at the age of 24, Nathaniel committed suicide. In order to heal and grieve for his missing son, Nathaniel’s father Dennis began a website documenting an awareness raising walk from Pennsylvania to Boston.
People with BDD are often considered just simply vain or self-involved, but their obsession over their appearance belies a deeply felt insecurity and distorted self-image. “It goes beyond a preoccupation and the mind can’t let go of the obsessions,” explains Dr. Jeff Szymanski, executive director of the International OCD Foundation. “You have to look at their belief system and get insight in there and go the distance.” [ABC News]