Needing to be “perfect” to be loved: the intersection of body dysmorphic disorder, sexual identity, and gay culture in gay men. A qualitative study

Heather Morgan-Sowada*, Casey Gamboni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is distressing mental health disorder whose clinical features have been given little investigation among sexual minority gay men. While age and gender differences have been investigated, past quantitative studies have neglected to compare between-group differences in BDD symptomatology between heterosexual and sexual minority samples. This creates a lack of understanding for the lived experiences of BDD in the LGBTQ community, which can be remedied through qualitative research. Before exploring between group differences, this study sought to explore the lived experiences of gay men diagnosed with BDD. Ten self-identified gay men who struggle with BDD were interviewed. A phenomenological approach was used to capture the experiences of participants. As a result, four essential themes emerged from the data: Degrading and Abject Influence of BDD, Culpability of Gay Culture, Intersection of BDD and Gay Culture as a Barrier to Intimacy, and Toxic Masculinity’s Impact on Gay Men with BDD. Suggestions for clinical implications and future research implications are also provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSexual and Relationship Therapy
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • body dysmorphic disorder
  • gay male culture
  • LGBTQ community
  • phenomenology
  • qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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