Disorder: Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Description of disorder: A body dysmorphic disorder is a type of mental illness, a somatoform disorder, wherein the affected person is concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a percieved defect of their physical features. The sufferer compains of a defect in either one place on the body, or on several places. Often, BDD co-occurs with emotional depression and anxiety. The causes of BDD are different for each person, but are generally a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Common symptoms of BDD include obsessive thoughts about percieved defects, OCD behaviors related to physical appearance, major depressive disorder symptoms, delusional thoughts and beliefs regarding appearance, anxiety, chronic low self-esteem, strong feelings of shame, avoidant and dependent personalities, alcohol and/or drug abuse, and perfectionism. BDD usually develops in a person's teenage years, during a time when individuals are most concerned about the way the look to others, but many patients suffer for many years before seeking help. BDD can be associated with eating disorders, such as compulsive overeating, anorexia nervose, or bulimia.
Has been at LPH for: Newly arriving
Medicine: Prozac (antidepressant), undergoing cognitive behavior therapy
Background: From the age of three, Ramona Gustafsson had been entering her daughter, Kathleen, into beauty pageants. The little girl was stunning and a total natural on stage, always winning either the Grand Supreme or her age divison's crown. Around the time Kathleen turned to seven, after homeschooling her daughter until then, Ramona enrolled Kathleen into a public school, figuring her daughter would need to become more social to live a proper life. It was in school that Kathleen became the main target for teasing and bullying; all the girls her age thought she was stuck-up and full of herself because her mom forced her into pageants and all the boys just went along with it. Kathleen kept the constant bullying to herself, not wanting to upset her mother, who wasn't very nice when she was mad. Instead, Kathleen called her father, who had been seperated from her mother and lived two states away. When she told her dad, Alan, what had been happening, he immediately called Ramona and demanded she take her daughter out of school. It was then that the verbal abuse on Kathleen's mother's end began. Calling her stupid and fat and ugly and undeserving at every chance she got, yet Ramona still put her daughter into every pageant that came their way. At age sixteen, Kathleen began to suffer from anorexia. At age seventeen, taking care of her appearance became a compulsion. At age eighteen, Kathleen began to point on things on herself that she absolutely hated, although there was nothing but creamy, smooth skin there. Alan had come to visit for Kathleen's 19th birthday party, something he promised his daughter he'd do after having to miss other birthday's on work-related trips. When he arrived to the Gustafsson house and saw the poor shape his daughter was in, he knew he had to do something. Not wanting to ruin his daughter's day, he allowed it to pass without a call to the doctor, but one was made a week later. After he'd talked to his daughter about it, and promised Kathleen he'd take her home with him if she went to get help, Kathleen agreed and off to LPH she went.
What you get to decide: Kathleen's overall personality (keep her background in mind), how her medicine and therapy sessions are helping her, her current feelings towards her mother/childhood
Played by: Crystal Reed