After thinking more about body dysmorphia and if or how it could be connected to people on the autism spectrum, I went looking for information to see if there was any. This was prompted by me writing a post called My “Flaws” That Led to Dysmorphia. I did not find much on the two being connected, I did find some people diagnosed with both Aspergers and BDD but no real information so far. What I did find was this article on Scientific America More Than Meets the Mirror.
What really stood out to me was the study they mentioned.
They claim that “A new study shows that the way people perceive their external appearance is likely linked to how they experience their bodies internally.” I have not read the study yet I am going to later when I have more time. I see a clear connection for me about the external and internal because I feel and always have felt disconnected from my body. The only times I feel whole are when I am writing, dancing or singing which normally involves dancing. I will explain it like this, during the day when I am doing other tasks like picking up, cleaning something, making meals, walking to the car, all of the movements that my body are making feel foreign. I have to think about what I want body to do. Maybe the best way to describe it is to show it.
That was the best clip I could find, but when Brain is trying to control his movements with controls that is what I feel like when I am trying to use my body. I feel like a brain in a mechanical suit that I cannot control very well. When I write, the words flow directly through my hands and they just seem to connect with no problems. I don’t have to constantly think about the mechanical process of writing, because when I write it just seems to come naturally. I feel the same thing with dancing. If I feel forced to write something or when I am nervous about the social situation of writing, like comments or emails to people then it takes a bit more concentration and quite a bit longer.
I can see where my disconnect to my internal body would make me distorted to my external appearance.
My brain would seem to be unable to get an accurate perception of what I see because it doesn’t “feel” like me. Since I feel that I am an unreliable source for my own body, naturally I would look to other people for their input on the matter. While collecting data in my mind about myself, it would seem that I took more of the negative comments because they seemed to be more and applied them to myself. I would take in the information, hear that I was ugly, gross, fat etc… and then say well this is the image that others see so it must be the true image. My motor-spacial disconnect made me not have an accurate view of myself.
Interesting about anorexia nervosa, they say that patients still think they “need to lose weight even as their bodies waste away”.
Yesterday in my post I wrote about how my thinking has dramatically changed but when I get stressed out I begin to focus on my weight. I will begin to obsess about loosing 10 pounds and secretly think of diet plans and exercises that I can do. The difference now is that I see the pattern and tell David or I force myself to read things about normal body weight and the dangers of excessive exercise or what lack of food can do to the body. I no longer stay silent, I write about it in prayer and ask for help with seeing the right way. I do not know if I will ever have an accurate view of my body or if I will ever completely stop trying to control my weight when I am under stress, but at least now I have a strong support system in this area and people who may not understand but they will help me.
The only thing that saved me from starving myself in the past were my friends or family commenting about me being too skinny.
My fear of them finding out would trump my need to lose weight. In a sense it made me feel that I was in control because I could determine if I gained weight or lost weight. The obsessive need to weigh myself, monitor how much food intake I had and constantly thinking about it was still there but I was very good at keeping it secret. In a way I felt it was all I had that no one else could take from me. Exposing these things and talking about them definitely starts the process of healing. I know that part of this has been the reason for my social anxiety. But understanding why my brain would even go there would be a great thing to know. Why would I take what women said about their bodies as a comparison to my body? Why would I believe that if someone said that some feature on me was big or gross that it was true and then feel guilt for them having to look at me? Why would I justify that I have a legitimate flaw because of my birthmark and feel that I deserved for people to feel uncomfortable around me?
Why? I don’t know but this not being able to sense my internal body does sound plausible to me.
There is another thing that I have witnessed with my sisters, they have a food obsession. They love food. They are emotional eaters and I do not understand that. They do not understand how my mom and I cannot eat when we are upset and we cannot understand how they can eat when they are upset. It’s just one of those things that we do not understand and let it go. My sisters act as though they are happy with their image but then a large portion of their conversations are self-destructive talk. I do not know if it is learned, they really believe it or if they too have a jaded view of themselves. Maybe all of the above. I tell them that it is not true or not to say those things but it doesn’t stop. They get mad at mom when she has said things about being too big, it makes them very angry. But now I am wondering if my mom is having the same issue as myself. I know that she only feels really connected to her body and mind when she is painting. Hm…There could be something to this.
What about any of you, do you experience any internal/external disconnect? Any problems with appearance from that perspective?