I thought of this in connection with visible facial difference (e.g., people with Moebius Syndome, facial disfigurement):
Appearance distress and visible differences have been associated with a number of problems including depression and anxiety, low self-esteem and negative body image and interpersonal problems. However, not all individuals with a visible difference report a negative experience, some report the minor role it plays in their lives and its positive consequences.
This project is concerned with identifying factors associated with the ability to adjust to a visible difference. Demographic variables and the physical nature of the visible difference have been repeatedly found not to predict distress. However, it has been found that individuals who place greater importance on their appearance use strategies to cope with their visible difference that are maladaptive. Furthermore, individuals who have easy, recurring access to a negative schematic representation of their appearance are more likely to be poorly adjusted. What seems to play a crucial role in why some individuals lend more psychological importance to appearance is their interactions with others from an early age. Thus, the feelings of people around us, which as a child is mainly our family, are assimilated into a child’s perception of their visible difference, and subsequently affects their ability to cope.
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