Visual representations of coping with body dysmorphic disorder: a multimodal hermeneutic phenomenological approach

Shioma-Lei Craythorne*, Rachel L. Shaw, Michael Larkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition characterised by distress associated with perceived defects in one's physical appearance. Such defects are likely to be very slight or invisible to external observers, making it difficult for people with BDD to convey what they see.

METHODS: Participants created artwork representing how they cope with BDD, then completed a follow-up interview to discuss their artwork. Framework for the Analysis of Drawings was used together with Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

FINDINGS: Three overarching themes were generated from the analysis, centred around BDD's fusion with one's lifeworld, perceptual detachment, and fragmented selves.

CONCLUSIONS: We suggest incorporating artwork creation in BDD research and clinical settings may elucidate understanding of "hidden" experiences. Clinicians may find it helpful to reflect on how the distinctive BDD "way of seeing" can infuse not just specific perceptions of the body, but also the person's wider relationship to the world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalArts & health
Early online date6 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023, The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Body dysmorphia
  • creative phenomenology
  • interpretive phenomenological analysis
  • qualitative psychology
  • arts-based research


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