BDD – SUGGESTED GUIDELINES FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS: DON’T GIVE REASSURANCE

Reassurance seeking is the BDD ritual that most often involves other people. It’s also one of the most frustrating for family members. If the questioning is reassurance seeking because they realize how bothersome it can be. But others simply can’t—the urge is irresistible. Parents of a 20-year-old woman with BDD told me, “We don’t know how to cope. No matter what we say, the questioning persists. We love our daughter and want to reassure her that she looks fine. She thinks we’re lying but we’re not. We don’t know what to do.”
The best response to this ritual—as to all others—is to not participate. In other words, don’t reassure the sufferer that they look okay. Even though they look fine, telling them this just feeds the BDD and keeps it going.
The typical—and understandable—response is to provide the reassurance the BDD sufferer seeks. After all, the person with BDD looks fine, so the natural tendency is to say so. Common responses include “You look fine!” “I can’t see it at all,” “It’s hardly visible,” or “It’s not as bad as you think—it’s hardly noticeable!” The problem with these responses is that although they’re true, they don’t stop the questioning for long, if at all. Furthermore, reassurance doesn’t put an end to the appearance concerns.
Paradoxically, responding to questioning with a reassuring reply can actually perpetuate the reassurance-seeking behavior. If the response does temporarily decrease the BDD sufferer’s anxiety, this transient relief fuels their attempt to obtain more relief by asking the question again. While it might seem cruel to refuse to respond to requests for reassurance, it isn’t. Refraining from providing reassurance may actually stop this time-and energy-consuming behavior.
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BDD – SUGGESTED GUIDELINES FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS:  DON’T GIVE REASSURANCEReassurance seeking is the BDD ritual that most often involves other people. It’s also one of the most frustrating for family members. If the questioning is reassurance seeking because they realize how bothersome it can be. But others simply can’t—the urge is irresistible. Parents of a 20-year-old woman with BDD told me, “We don’t know how to cope. No matter what we say, the questioning persists. We love our daughter and want to reassure her that she looks fine. She thinks we’re lying but we’re not. We don’t know what to do.”The best response to this ritual—as to all others—is to not participate. In other words, don’t reassure the sufferer that they look okay. Even though they look fine, telling them this just feeds the BDD and keeps it going.The typical—and understandable—response is to provide the reassurance the BDD sufferer seeks. After all, the person with BDD looks fine, so the natural tendency is to say so. Common responses include “You look fine!” “I can’t see it at all,” “It’s hardly visible,” or “It’s not as bad as you think—it’s hardly noticeable!” The problem with these responses is that although they’re true, they don’t stop the questioning for long, if at all. Furthermore, reassurance doesn’t put an end to the appearance concerns.Paradoxically, responding to questioning with a reassuring reply can actually perpetuate the reassurance-seeking behavior. If the response does temporarily decrease the BDD sufferer’s anxiety, this transient relief fuels their attempt to obtain more relief by asking the question again. While it might seem cruel to refuse to respond to requests for reassurance, it isn’t. Refraining from providing reassurance may actually stop this time-and energy-consuming behavior.*406\204\8*

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