Legal and medical aspects of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Tali Nachshoni, Moshe Kotler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a preoccupation with an imagined defect in physical appearance has a rich clinical history, but officially appeared with diagnostic criteria only in the DSM-III-R classification system. Prevalence of BDD in plastic and cosmetic dermatology ranges between 7-15% due to the obsession with imagined imperfections. The emotional "defect" causes dissatisfaction with nonpsychiatric medical procedures, and often recourse into legal action. We present a case study of BDD developing after cosmetic surgery and debate whether this is an actual possibility and the legal consequences of this possibility. We question whether surgery was a traumatic event and its relationship to the patient's premorbid "eggshell personality". The difficulty in determining causation of psychiatric disorders for the purpose of deciding issues of compensation is discussed. A practical algorithm is offered in order to avoid litigation and to maintain the legitimate medical ideal of "first do no harm".

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-735
Number of pages15
JournalMedicine and Law
Volume26
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007

Keywords

  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder, "eggshell personality"
  • Compensation
  • Liability

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