Making Curriculum Pop

Another great lesson plan from the New York Times Learning Network

April 7, 2010, 10:38 AM

Building Webs of Support for People With B.D.D. and Eating Disorders

Materials | Poster paper, markers, research resources (including, if available, computers with Internet access), general-interest magazines (optional)Overview | What do you know about psychiatric disorders that cause people to obsess over a physical feature? How can a community of parents, peers, teachers, doctors and psychiatric professionals best help and support someone with one of these disorders? In this lesson, students reflect on stories of teens with body dysmorphic disorder (B.D.D.) and eating disorders. By drawing and discussing support webs around each story, groups investigate the disorders from the perspectives of the individual affected and the people in their lives.

Warm-up | Read aloud stories of teens with body dysmorphic disorder to the class. Before disclosing that the teens have B.D.D., have students respond to the following prompt: How might you respond if you were friends with one of these two individuals? What do you imagine is the cause of their concerns with their physical appearances? Do you consider their concerns to be typical of most teens, or obsessive?

After a few minutes, invite students to share their responses and reactions. Explain that the teens described in the stories have B.D.D., a psychiatric disorder where people become “overly focused on a perceived defect of their face, hair, skin or facial or body shape that others may not notice – indeed, that may not even exist.”

Ask: Have you heard of B.D.D. before? If so, what do you know about it? What is the difference between being very concerned about a physical feature and true psychological obsession? (The National Alliance on Mental Illnessdefines obsessions as “intrusive, irrational thoughts — unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in a person’s mind.”)

Read the complete lesson plan here.

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