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Impaired Recognition of Negative Facial Emotions in Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2019

Sally A. Grace*
Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
Wei Lin Toh
Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia
Ben Buchanan
School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
David J. Castle
Psychiatry, St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Susan L. Rossell
Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Correspondence and reprint requests to: Sally A. Grace, Centre for Mental Health, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC 3122, Australia. E-mail:


Objectives: Patients with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) have difficulty in recognising facial emotions, and there is evidence to suggest that there is a specific deficit in identifying negative facial emotions, such as sadness and anger. Methods: This study investigated facial emotion recognition in 19 individuals with BDD compared with 21 healthy control participants who completed a facial emotion recognition task, in which they were asked to identify emotional expressions portrayed in neutral, happy, sad, fearful, or angry faces. Results: Compared to the healthy control participants, the BDD patients were generally less accurate in identifying all facial emotions but showed specific deficits for negative emotions. The BDD group made significantly more errors when identifying neutral, angry, and sad faces than healthy controls; and were significantly slower at identifying neutral, angry, and happy faces. Conclusions: These findings add to previous face-processing literature in BDD, suggesting deficits in identifying negative facial emotions. There are treatment implications as future interventions would do well to target such deficits.

Brief Communication
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2019. 

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