EMDR treatment of body dysmorphobia


Body Dysmorphic Disorder presents a preoccupation with imagined ugliness, typically involving facial flaws, such as spots or wrinkles, or the shape of the face, nose, mouth or jaw. More rarely the complain involves the appearance of the feet, hands, breasts or genitalia. It is frequently chronic and may lead to marked disruption of the patients social, marital and occupational life (Phillips, 1991).

The disorder is fairly unremitting with few symptom-free periods, although the body part focused upon may change over time. It is generally regarded as a condition that is difficult to treat (Phillips, 1991). A variety of cognitive and behavioural techniques have been described to have some effect but all tend to be lengthy. To the author's knowledge here are no reports on the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) in its treatment. Here we describe our use of EMDR in fourteen consecutive patients with body dysmorphic disorder. Outcome data is presented. The treatment time is much less than the combination of treatment and homework used in imaginal exposure (Vaughan et al, 1994). Such homework was not given to our patients. Furthermore, as EMD leads to involuntary changing images throughout a session, the exposure element is further reduced. In contrast to exposure, EMDR does not involve exacerbating or increasing the patients level of anxiety and, whilst patients experience a rapid positive shift in cognitions during EMDR, this has not been found in treatments with exposure only (Kilpatrick, Veronen & Resnick, 1982).






Theresa McGoldrick

Original Work Citation

McGoldrick, T. (2001, May). EMDR treatment of body dysmorphobia. Presentation at the 2nd EMDR Europe Association Conference, London, England



“EMDR treatment of body dysmorphobia,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed December 5, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/19173.

Output Formats