Our lives are overfilled with various emotions, perceptions, and feelings, and the way we see our lives also predetermines the quality of our interactions with others, as well as the quality of all inner psychological, and as a result, physiological processes. Very often, we judge the fact according to our perceptions and feelings. These feelings, however, tend to distort the reality, and distorted perceptions are fairly regarded as some of the most complex psychological issues an individual may face at any stage of life.
Distorted perceptions have a variety of meanings. The reasons and drivers of distorted perceptions are numerous and many. Very often, if not always, distorted perceptions are associated with eating disorders in different groups of individuals. Reinecke, Dattilio and Freeman (2006) write that “body image is the picture of our body that we form in our mind. It is the way the body appears to ourselves. Evidence indicates that patients with eating disorders maintain distorted perceptions of their weight and shape”.
In this situation, distorted perceptions not only promote the development of various physiological complications in individuals with diagnosed eating disorders, but if not timely addressed, do not leave any room for fast and effective recovery. Moreover, in case of eating disorders, individuals will be more likely to see distorted perceptions as an effective instrument of coping with excess weight, thus treating them as the necessary component of their gradual movement to a better physique.
In this context, when trying to minimize the scope of distorted perceptions in such individuals, it is essential that psychology and counseling professionals discuss and analyze the ways these people see themselves, the way they see how others perceive them, and the myths they hold in terms of their body functioning (Reinecke, Dattilio & Freeman, 2006). When it comes to eating disorders, distorted perceptions can hardly produce any positive impacts, but on the contrary will always stand on the patient’s way to recovery.
Another set of distorted perceptions is usually associated with the circumstances of abuse: “the circumstances of the abuse can cause a distorted perception of the incidents of abuse which inhibits in the pursuit of legal remedies until therapy adjusts those perceptions” (Case, 2007). The fact is in that distorted perceptions in the context of abuse usually manifest themselves as an erroneous belief that the victim of abuse was responsible for this abuse and as such, not the abuser but its victim becomes the major wrongdoer (Case, 2007).
Bearing in mind the potential impact, which distorted perceptions may produce on the victim, abusers will also tend to use these for the sake of concealing the fact of abuse. Here, the victims of abuse can experience further psychological traumas, being unable to address the fact of abuse from the legal viewpoint, and also failing to avoid the feeling of guilt with regard to the incident. However, is it possible that distorted perceptions produce any positive impact on one’s vision of the world? Objectively, everything depends on the needs and motives that drive distorted perceptions.
Of course, when speaking of abuse or eating disorders, distorted perceptions only aggravate the situation, but what if distorted perceptions result of our growing wishes to be successful, powerful, and attractive? Emslie et al (1979) suggest that where an individual has a strong motivation to be successful, he (she) will be more likely to distort his (her) perceptions about real or factual success; such people often imagine themselves more successful than they are. In this emotional atmosphere, the distorted perceptions of their own success may lead to better emotional stability, self-satisfaction, and self-fulfillment.
It is a mechanism to which psychologists refer as “perceptual accentuation”, when people perceive the most important and relevant things as larger, more valuable, and more meaningful than they are in reality (Emslie et al, 1979). Unfortunately, as perceptual accentuation is associated with increased attention toward a certain set of things and events in our lives, it is also accompanied by the so-called perceptual defense, which is hardly positive for our perceptions; for it is under the impact of perceptual defense that people underestimate irrelevant things (Emslie et al, 1979).
They see these things as having less value than they have in reality, and thus overlook or neglect things that seem conflicting or unpleasant, instead of confronting the reality. Conclusion Distorted perceptions are caused by a variety of reasons and factors. Eating disorders are often the results of the distorted perceptions individuals hold toward their appearance and body, while physical abuse is often the major driver of distorted perceptions about guilt in victims.
Sometimes, the growing relevance of certain aspects of life events also leads to overestimating or underestimating the real order of things in life, but regardless of the situation, distorted perceptions can become a serious obstacle on the individual’s way to psychological, and often, physiological recovery.
References Case, P. (2007). Compensating child abuse. Cambridge University Press. Emslie, G. , Medcof, J. & Roth, J. (1979). Approaches to psychology. Routledge. Reinecke, M. A. , Dattilio, F. M. & Freeman, A. (2006). Cognitive therapy with children and adolescents: A casebook for clinical practice. Guilford Press.