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‘The Perfect Penis’ and body dysmorphic disorder


I got home from the pub the other night and was casually scanning through the TV channels, when I happened across the second half of a curiously compelling documentary.  ‘The Perfect Penis‘ was about an American psychology student who was paying $4000 to have his penis lengthened.  This is not my area of expertise, but apparently this involves cutting a ligament located in the pubis.  A lot of the penis is actually in the body and cutting this lets a bit more of it protrude. 

The next bit sounds worse: to complete the job, the gentleman must then hang a weight off his member for no less than eight hours a day for several weeks after the op.  As well as sounding painful and unbelievably tedious, the results appear barely worth the trouble, with Wikipedia quoting an increase in penis length of 2-3cm and netdoctor stating that the only study available suggested that average increase in length was 0.5cm.  

The chap who was having it done actually seemed pretty normal, although my suspicions of obsessive/narcissistic personality traits were raised by his buff physique.  I didn’t catch all the programme so I didn’t see if he had a psychiatric evaluation.  I suspect not, as it might have spoilt things and there was a bit where he was talking to this psychology supervisor, who said sensible things which were completely ignored.  We got to have a look at the ‘inadequate’ equipment towards the end of the show and it looked perfectly fine to me.  We were also told at the end of the show that the penis surgeon had recently bought a new house in which to keep his four rollers;  I couldn’t help thinking our poor boy had been done. 

Leaving no grotesque stone unturned, the documentary makers included an interview with ‘Mister Mark’.  Mark is a gentleman who has injected enough silicon in his testicles and penis to make his scrotum 1ft in circumference.  He was appeared pleased as punch about this, and even has a website called ‘’ dedicated to his enlarged genitals (full admission: in the spirit of ‘frontier psychiatry’ I did visit this website, but I really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone of an even slightly queasy disposition).  

If I was trying to drum up business for myself, I’d be concerned if the psychology student was suffering from body dysmorphic disorder; Mister Mark is a subject for another day.  At the end of the show it was revealed that he was unwell and that he may be suffering from a silicon embolis.

Body dysmorphic disorder (Also known as dymorphophobia) was first described by Morselli in 1886:

‘A subjective description of ugliness and physical defect which the patient feels is noticable to others, although the appearance is within normal limits.  The dysmorphophobic patient is really miserable in the middle of his daily routines, everywhere and at any time, he is caught by the doubt of deformity’

Typically the patient is convinced that some part of his/her body is too large, too small or misshapen.  This is usually a part of the face, but can be any body part.  To other people the appearance is normal or there may be some slight abnormality.  The patient may be constantly preoccupied and tormented by his/her mistaken belief;  he/she may blame all his other difficulties on it.  For instance they may think that if only their nose were a better shape then they might have a better life or job. 

There may be time consuming behaviours.  I once had a patient who was constantly late for work as he used to spend hours examining his nose in the mirror. There is substantial overlap with other psychiatric disorders, especially depression and social phobia.  At its extreme the BDD may be very disabling and may leave the patient housebound and unemployed.  In the absence of corrective operations, people have been known to take matters into their own hands, for instance using a clothes iron to remove wrinkles on their face.

The prevalence is 1% in the community. The treatment is often difficult and  surgery is usually contraindicated.  Patients usually will have unrealistic expectations and once the operation is complete their concern may transfer to another part of the body. 

Dr David Veale’s site has a BDD reference page which is worth a look.

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  1. I too had to look once advised that it might not be a good idea. Like in a horror film when they ALWAYS have to go and investigate what that noise was.

    How the HELL does that man sit? Would have to be a rubber ring job.

  2. Hey Readers,

    We all know that Body Dysmorphic Disorder is not a laughing matter, and those who suffer from the torment of “imagined ugliness” often feel alone with their obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder.

    Most people with BDD are not “ugly” at all. They are often shy, uncomfortable in social situations and seldom make eye contact. They hide their perceived ugliness under hats, shades and bulky clothing.

    Several studies have found that almost 90 per cent of BDD obsessions are face related, followed by hair, skin and eyes (Yaryura-Tobias and Neziroglu 1997b).

    There will be a Day of Action against obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders on Saturday, 22 November at the OCD Conference 2008, which includes a workshop on ‘Overcoming BDD and Skin-Picking’.

    The workshop will be led by David Veale, Consultant Psychiatrist in CBT and Rob Wilson, Private Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.
    Session aims:
    > To understand the nature of Body Dysmorphic Disorder and some of the mechanisms that maintain it.
    > To understand the self-help principles that are used to overcome BDD.

    The details for OCD Conference 2008:
    Date: Saturday, 22 November 2008
    Time: 9:30am – 5.30pm
    Place: Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ
    Fees: £20 / £30 for members or supporting charities and £75 for professionals
    Phone OCD Action to book your ticket on 0870 360 6232.
    OCD Action helpline 0845 390 6232

    You are not alone with your disorder and it helps to meet and learn from other people who suffer from BDD.



  3. “Mister Mark” here. Thanks for your comments about me. I love the humiliation. 🙂

    Please make more comments or email me sometime.

  4. Hi, welcome to the site! Care to shed any light on the ‘silicon embolus’ story? FP

  5. Hi there.

    It turned out there was no embolism of any kind. I had pneumonia, and the timing was very unfortunate because I had just been injected again with silicone. I couldn’t help but think that I was feeling ill because something had gone wrong with the latest injection.

    I actually had the silicone removed last year by a surgeon in the UK. (Love you Brits!)

    I still think that the modification was pretty awesome, but my life is much easier now without it. I have other ways of being weird that are much less dramatic. 🙂

  6. Struggling, properly struggling now. How much do you have to give up to hide it?? Used to play a middleclass sport at england U-18 level, but stopped because of my pinga (brasilian name)? Stopped my brasilian affair and everything else. Its not a laughing matter- wish i was victorian/older times person, but wouldve been a lifetime disappointment for my lady then.. want to hide but am goodlooking & great dancer & speak portuguese & spanish. But know end of night-keep my y-fronts on… AAAAAAAARGHHHHH!!

  7. i am disabled. sorry chaps who are properly facing difficult times everyday, but i cant do an able bodied regular (if not married) thing. But cant see small dick 100m race catching on…

  8. hello
    i m 26 yr old man and i have trouble about my penis . my problem is my penis size is between 5-6 inch in attract position but my penis upper skin layer will not be open or my penis hole is reduced to day by day . i feel very painful to flow out my urine through penis .so please help me what can i do !

  9. Michoangelo’s (sp?) DAVID is supposed to be a JEW, but the penis is uncirumcised (sp?).