Converted Cargo Trailer Dysmorphic Disorder

Keith Howard | Monday, July 20, 2015

I don’t know a lot about body dysmorphic disorder, the vague (or sometimes overwhelming) sense that one’s nose is too big, one’s thighs too thin or one’s hands mismatched. My body, while far from fine, has worked more than adequately for transporting my mind and spirit for more than 50 years. If there is a psychiatrist looking to make a name for herself, though, I may have a new disorder to be vetted for the DSM, the bible of mental illness: converted cargo trailer dysmorphic disorder, in which the sufferer sees his or her cargo trailer as being bigger or smaller, grander or plainer, better or worse organized than it actually is. As the first patient, I can offer that psychiatrist some first-person case notes:

  • Looking around the Liberty Home, I’m overwhelmed by all the blessed SPACE I have. After all, I’ve got a bunk bed (first level to sleep on, second to store), TWO bureaus, neither of which is full, a small kitchen table, two rocking chairs, Lucy’s kennel and a toilet. Even with all those items, I still have enough space to swing a cat! By the end of the tail, even.
    • Evidence of Disorder: The Liberty Home is roughly 160 square feet. Compare this to the average one-bedroom apartment’s 500-800 square feet or the average studio’s 350-500 square feet. Since people in studios are required by law in some states to complain about how little space they have, who am I to be happy at less than half the size of a studio? Should my satisfaction be treated with an anti-antidepressant to draw my resentment and umbrage to the surface?
  • With two different ways of brewing coffee (three, if you count the silly 12-volt electric coffee maker that brews one cup every three months), I feel capable of hosting even the fussiest of guests. Whether using a stovetop espresso maker or an old fashioned percolating coffee pot, I can brew up variations on the bitter mud I drink each morning. Add to this a choice of rocking chairs, an array of coffee mugs and, for a while at least, a box of hard pretzels, and the Queen of England ain’t got nothing on me
    • Evidence of Disorder: When one entertains, one thinks of one’s guests and their comfort. Why no microwave for heating, cushioned chairs for sitting and matched plates for eating? If I have little worry about my guests being forced to sit on wooden rocking chairs or make do with pretzels to nosh on, what kind of etiquette-blind monster am I? (In the interest of full disclosure, I drink my coffee black without sugar. If you visit, be prepared.) This symptom may need to be treated with a more milieu-ish approach: force the patient to read George Elliot and Jane Austen novels until his eyes dry out.)

I do wish that psychiatrist luck in her career, and would invite her to come and do an in situ clinical observation, gathering data on this disorder. You’ll note I’ve referred to the researcher as a psychiatrist rather than a clinical psychologist. Psychiatrists are doctors. Maybe after I’ve helped her make her name, she can take a look at my feet and let me know whether the six toes on my right foot look okay to her when compared with the three on my left.
-Keith Howard

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