Complexes due to the physical: what they are, causes, and how to manage them
Let’s see the causes of complexes due to the physical and what to do when faced with insecurities with the body.
Gray hair, stretch marks, love handles, extreme thinness, little muscle, small nose … Do you have any of these “defects”?
The list of complexes due to the physical is long, as are the features of our physical appearance that we can worry about and obsess over, complexes that despite the fact that we place them in our physique on many occasions are in the look we have on ourselves.
Whether based on something real or imagined, complexes are often closely related to our self-concept, the canon of the beauty of the society we live in, and our experiences in childhood and adolescence. Let’s find out what complexes are by physics, how they arise, and how to manage them.
What are complexes for the physical?
We can say that the physical complexes are any emotional and psychological discomfort that is caused by some discontent and discomfort towards one or more features of our physical appearance. These complexes arise from worrying about some part of our body and seeing it in a negative way, the result of a subjective perception of what our body is like that makes us see it in a way that does not have to correspond to how it really is.
The list of complexes by the physique is practically endless, as is the list of parts of our body for which we can be uncomfortable. Among the most frequent complexes, we have those related to weight, height, hair, muscles, chest size, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, tooth color and shape, freckles, acne, nose shape, eye color, and silhouette. body in general.
Having some complexity about what our body is like does not mean that we have a mental disorder, far from it. Almost everyone feels discomfort towards some part of their body, and the reasons behind it are very varied. Physical complexes are something that we have all experienced in our flesh and that cause us different levels of psychological and emotional discomfort, motivating us to do certain things to change them, such as dyeing our hair to hide gray hair or exercising to lose weight. weight.
In many cases, the perception of a physical trait seen as “defective” is distorted, that is, the person with the complex does not objectively perceive that part of the body and, furthermore, may begin to become obsessed with the said trait, seeing it every time more deformed and remote from how it really is. In other cases, the physical feature is not appreciated in any distorted way and there is indeed some kind of “defect” (eg, congenital deformity) but the worry and anxiety associated with that part are so excessive that it greatly limits the life of the patient. the self-conscious person.
Although our physical complexes accompany us every day of the year, there are times when they can occupy our minds more frequently and greatly influence our social life and leisure. An example of this we have in summer when people wear clothes that show parts of the body and go to the beach. This time of year is especially hard for people with some type of complex related to their body silhouette, either due to being overweight or underweight, in addition to some complexes related to the skin such as stretch marks, body hair, skin spots …
Causes of complexes with one’s own body
Complexes due to the physical are closely related to our self-concept and self-esteem. Self-concept is the set of ideas we have about how we are and this is formed throughout our lives taking as a reference our strengths and weaknesses as well as our way of being physically, psychologically, socially, and emotionally. All these aspects not only make us form an image of who we are, but also give us value as people.
If we consider that many aspects of our self-concept are “bad” they will make us see ourselves as worthless people, negatively affecting our self-esteem. Bearing this in mind, physical complexes would be nothing more than physical traits to which we have attributed a negative meaning but which are part of our being and, consequently, “take away” value from us as people.
Among the main causes behind the appearance of physical complexes, we have the following.
1. Feeling humiliated by some physical feature
In themselves, our physical features are neither good nor bad, unless they involve some kind of medical or functional problem. On many occasions, it happens that people do not realize that we have something “negative” until someone tells us and, as a general rule.
This is what usually happens in childhood, when other children make fun of how our body is at recess, such as having big ears, being a little overweight or suffering from acne.
When we are children this type of humiliation can be experienced in a particularly intense way, so much so that years later they return in the form of “microtrauma”, remembering over and over again what they said to us when we were little and beginning to make us obsess over the part of the body that was made fun of.
But these humiliations are not only done by children. It also happens that our parents and reference adults noticed some physical traits when we were little and this marks us deeply. From our relatives, we not only inherit traditions, values, language, and culture, but also complexes and obsessions about how our body is.
2. Obsess over specific parts
Our body is not an amalgam of different disconnected parts, but rather they form a whole. This, which is an obvious fact, is usually ignored when we carefully scan that part of our body with which we feel so bad, ignoring the rest of the good things and forgetting that the body is a whole, a structure with proportions that give it beauty.
Looking at each of our body parts and understanding them as highly differentiated particularities contributes to suffering from complexes due to the physique. We give importance to each of these parts separately, especially those with which we are not comfortable at all, distorting the perception of our own body.
So that we understand: imagine a person obsessed with their tickets, afraid of going bald. Every time you go to see yourself in the mirror, instead of looking at your whole body or, at the very least, on your face, your gaze goes directly to where the hair begins. She looks at him and looks at him, ignoring that he has a beautiful nose, interesting eyes, and sensual mouth that make his face very attractive.
3. Not feeling valued enough
As we said, the complexes for physical and self-esteem are closely related, with the self-concept that acts as a bridge between both. People who have grown up in environments in which there has been no love or affection can have a very negative self-concept, thinking that they are not worth as human beings and this causes all kinds of concern about how they are both physically and psychologically.
Believing that their parents did not give them love because they did not deserve it, many people start looking for all kinds of “defects” that justify this fact, even if they are exaggerated and unreal. Insecurity and lack of confidence are two very common attitudes in people whose complexes were formed this way.
4. Obsession for canons of beauty
Although canons of beauty have evolved in recent years, progressing into ones that are not so surreal, there is still a lot of work to be done. Today many people have internalized a very exaggerated ideal of beauty and their desire to achieve the perfect body, far from what is humanly possible, makes them feel very dissatisfied with the skin they inhabit.
Since you cannot be the person you want to be, many frustrations arise, as well as great anguish and discomfort. Pursuing an impossible ideal of beauty will bring with it feelings of dissatisfaction and lack of acceptance of the own body, giving rise to physical complexes.
Body dysmorphic disorder
A psychopathological condition closely related to complexes by the physical is body dysmorphic disorder. Also called dysmorphophobia, this disorder is characterized by a persistent preoccupation with one or more perceived defects in one’s physical appearance. These defects may not be obvious or are very slightly visible to other people, but the person who feels self-conscious about them experiences them with great anguish, giving rise to compulsive behaviors to calm the associated anxiety.
In many cases, the physical complexes that make these people uncomfortable are imaginary defects, while in cases in which there is indeed a physically “negative” feature, these patients give it too much importance, living it with great anxiety. Their degree of discomfort and limitation is so great that difficulties appear in social, work, family, academic, and leisure life.
Body dysmorphic disorder is considered a relatively common psychopathology, especially in its less severe variants. There do not appear to be gender differences and it has been described worldwide with prevalences of around 2% in general population samples. Two out of three cases have their origins in the patient’s adolescence and it is believed that many of the patients who attend dermatological and plastic surgery consultations meet the criteria for being diagnosed with dysmorphophobia.
The fact that many patients with this disorder go to surgeons before seeking psychological or psychiatric help makes identification and treatment very difficult. For this reason, it is considered essential to train both surgeons and dermatologists to know this psychological disorder well, detecting it in their patients and referring them to a psychologist or psychiatrist before surgery.
A referral is very important for this type of patient since, although those with body dysmorphic disorder trust that surgery will solve their complexes, the reality is very different. At first, when they have gotten rid of their “defect”, they stop feeling discomfort in the short term, but over the months they begin to detect new defects, feeling discomfort again and wanting to go through the surgeon’s table again. As their problem is in how they look at themselves and not in what their body is like, no surgical operation is going to satisfy them.
How to manage the complexes?
The case of body dysmorphic disorder is an extreme case of obsession with our defects, a psychological problem that, as such, must be treated with psychotherapy. However, this does not mean that we have to accept all our defects without more, accepting the philosophy that we have to see ourselves in the mirror and accept ourselves as we are just because.
There are several ways to manage the complexes, although these are mainly summarized in receiving psychological help, intervene surgically when necessary and, if possible and healthy, change it on our own.
There are physical complexes that can really cause such a level of psychological discomfort that correcting them surgically or in other ways implies an improvement in the mental health of the patient. An example of this is found in cancer survivors who have had part of their breast tissue removed, leaving them without a breast. In your specific case, reconstructive surgery can imply a notable improvement in your self-concept and self-esteem, recovering something that cancer took away from you.
We have another example of many people who are overweight. No one should be attacked for their physical condition, and the only real motivation there should be to exercise is to be fit and healthy, however, it is a sad fact that many people consider “fat” people to be worthless.
If you are overweight and there is no eating disorder, this complex can be corrected by working directly on the root of the problem by exercising, something that will not only improve your physical health but also the degree of acceptance with your own body.
Whatever the physical complex, what has caused it, its severity and whether it is modifiable, psychological therapy is a way that should never be discarded. Psychotherapy can help us relate differently with our body and change the look, leaving us to focus on what “bad” that we have and appreciate all the good, both physical and psychological, which undoubtedly is part of our being.
People who have many physical complexes are used to “running away from themselves”, not accepting who they are, and seeing themselves as less valuable than the people with whom they interact every day. They try to avoid looking in the mirror or, if they do, they look almost exclusively at what they think is obsessively wrong.
The goal of psychotherapy is to ensure that patients are able to integrate this defect and compare it with the rest of the body, to have a global view of what their physical appearance is like, and, if possible, to do what is necessary to eliminate it.
Complexes due to the physical: what they are, causes, and how to manage them