Dorian-Gray Syndrome

Dorian-Gray Syndrome Basics

Dictionary Medical

The following article deals with the causes, symptoms and treatment of Dorian-Gray syndrome. This is a mental disorder that is characterized by a strong youthfulness. Psycho- and sociologists see the causes of the syndrome in the unrealistic beauty standards of modern society.

What is Dorian-Gray Syndrome?

Dorian-Gray syndrome is a mental disorder that manifests itself as an obsessive-compulsive desire not to age. It is estimated that around three percent of the German population suffers from the syndrome. Affected patients refuse to mature externally as well as internally.

They are very focused on their body, which they perceive to be exceptionally unaesthetic. In order to meet their ideas of an ideal appearance, they abuse lifestyle drugs such as appetite suppressants and sexual enhancers. The aesthetic surgery is usually taken several times to complete.

It was named after the Giessen psychologist Burkhard Brosig. This syndrome is named after a fictional character from Oscar Wilde’s “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”. The said protagonist sacrifices his soul in exchange for eternal youth. Ultimately, the fulfillment of this wish drives him to suicide. This parallels the actual course of the disease.


Dorian-Gray syndrome is seen as a result of the pursuit of physical perfection. The media confront consumers every day with flawless ideal people and beauty is promoted as a highly desirable good. Anyone who does not meet the standard can neither be successful financially nor in partnership.

This mirage takes hold in the minds of consumers and creates self-doubt. The comparison of the ideal bodies in the glossy magazines with one’s own is sobering and the desire to change arises. People with low self-esteem are susceptible to the syndrome.

Sick patients not only long for perfection, but also have inhibitions about dealing with aging. The young person bears no responsibility. Those who mature must learn to act responsibly and face the consequences. However, if you persist in eternal youth, you are supposedly spared this.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

The symptoms of Dorian-Gray syndrome are only noticeable as a complex of symptoms. Inferiority complexes and dissatisfaction with one’s own body are widespread. In DGS patients, however, it is noticeable how blatantly the perception of oneself and that of others differ.

A pronounced narcissism results from the detailed examination of one’s own appearance. This also acts as an overcompensation for the lack of self-esteem. Due to the gradation of others, the sick person feels more valuable himself. This makes interpersonal interactions more difficult for the patient.

The lack of mental maturity is also striking. Long-term healthy relationships cannot be maintained. This often leads to isolation. The constant confrontation with one’s own problems and alleged flaws, combined with loneliness, often causes depression. This is often accompanied by suicidal tendencies.

In order to achieve perfection, DGS sufferers use numerous lifestyle drugs. These include potency and hair wax products, appetite suppressants and antidepressants. The latter, however, are not used consciously against depression, but are considered pleasant mood enhancers. Frequent and extreme exercise is also considered a symptom. The frequent use of aesthetic surgery, laser treatments and other interventions also serves as an indication.

Diagnosis & course

Since the syndrome is a relatively new phenomenon, there is currently no official diagnosis code. However, if the above symptoms occur in combination with the abuse of at least two lifestyle drugs and / or unnecessary medical interventions, a person is considered to be ill.

As with any mental disorder, the sooner the disorder is recognized and treated, the greater the chances of recovery. If the Dorian-Gray symptom is left untreated, it later becomes self-damaging. Frequent cosmetic surgeries involve numerous risks. Cardiac arrest during anesthesia, malpractice and wound infections.

If a patient does not find the satisfaction he is looking for in the permanent change in his appearance, he will find other ways of compensation. Often this leads to increased drug and alcohol consumption. If the syndrome becomes unbearable for the patient, it can also lead to suicide.

If no treatment is given in the presence of Dorian-Gray syndrome, the patient’s behavior becomes self-harming. Unnecessarily performed cosmetic operations harbor numerous health risks. These include in particular wound infections, malpractice, shock or cardiac arrest during anesthesia.

If changes in the patient’s appearance do not lead to the desired satisfaction, other ways of compensation are often sought. This often occurs in conjunction with increased alcohol and drug consumption and drug abuse. In the worst case, this can lead to the death or suicide of the sick person.


Since the clinical picture was only characterized as such in 2015, the state of research is accordingly still in the early stages. In general, psychotherapy is recommended in any case to treat the disorder. The attending physician or psychotherapist is entitled to take an anamnesis and uncover connections to the illness.

In Dorian-Gray syndrome, it is of crucial importance to determine whether the symptoms are related to a personality disorder. In this case, targeted work on the respective personality disorder is an accompanying main goal of the treatment. Depending on the type of disorder, different types of treatment are recommended, which can provide specific medication.

The first goal of the patient should be to develop an awareness of the problem as part of the therapy. Without this, in particular, complications can arise with treatment. As soon as the patient becomes aware of the disease, he or she can react to it in different ways. Here problems and behavior of the patient can worsen through consciously suppressing emotions.

Therefore, regular meetings are vital. It can also be helpful to help the patient build a social support network. This can provide supportive reinforcement for the manifestation of a positive self-esteem.

When should you go to the doctor?

As a rule, Dorian-Gray syndrome leads to various psychological complaints, so that a doctor should always be consulted if the person concerned suffers from mental disorders or depression. A visit to a doctor is definitely necessary even if you have thoughts of suicide or even attempted suicide. Furthermore, the person concerned should then consult a doctor if he has inferiority complexes or a significantly reduced self-esteem. Often only outside people can determine the symptoms of Dorian Gray syndrome, so that these indicate the disease to the patient.

In severe cases, treatment in a closed clinic makes sense. A doctor should also be consulted if the person concerned is taking a large amount of an appetite suppressant or sexual enhancer on their own. This can prevent further damage to the body. Frequent plastic surgeries can also indicate a mental disorder and should be evaluated. Diagnosis and treatment of Dorian-Gray syndrome should be made by a psychologist. In particular, family and friends and acquaintances should point out the disease to an affected person and convince them to seek treatment.

Treatment & Therapy

Someone who has the Dorian Gray symptom should seek therapy. However, the person concerned often sees no need for treatment himself and learns to come to terms with his disorder. In psychotherapy, the first thing to do is to awaken the patient’s awareness of the problem.

The sufferer has to recognize that his behavior is compulsive and harmful to himself. Without this knowledge, it becomes difficult to find an approach to therapy. After this process, the therapist will work towards increasing self-esteem. Mindfulness exercises give you a feeling for your own emotions.

The patient learns to take himself and his inner experience seriously. The awareness of one’s own value can then build on this. In addition, the therapist teaches the patient appropriate strategies to compensate for the inner insecurity.

Outlook & forecast

The prognosis of Dorian-Gray syndrome depends on the patient’s understanding of the disease. In most cases, those affected do not seek treatment because they do not perceive themselves to be sick. Those affected do not perceive that they have a mental disorder that can be treated or they are full of shame and refuse help for this reason. You decide to live with the compulsive desire for rejuvenation and try to deal with the symptoms independently.

There may be interval-like phases in which the intensity of the symptoms increases. In the worst case, further illnesses occur and the state of health deteriorates considerably. The prospect of relief changes as soon as the person concerned goes into therapy and gets involved in the treatment. Through cognitive changes and awareness training, patients experience relief and the symptoms of Dorian-Gray syndrome are reduced.

The therapy can take several months or years until there is significant improvement. Success is linked to the cooperation of the patient. In some cases, no relief is observed despite therapy. The prognosis is particularly poor in patients with an additional personality disorder. In addition to a lack of insight into the disease, the symptoms of Dorian-Gray syndrome can also become stronger due to the personality.


Since Dorian-Gray syndrome is mainly caused by the standards of today’s society, it is difficult to make statements about prevention methods. The overall concept of “beauty” would have to be rethought. Individuals must be given back the feeling that their essence is not defined by their appearance. In addition, the patients in beauty clinics should be examined more closely and questioned in order to be able to recognize and treat Dorian-Gray syndrome in good time.


In Dorian-Gray syndrome, follow-up measures or options usually prove to be relatively difficult because the disease cannot be treated completely. The person concerned is therefore dependent on an early and, above all, rapid diagnosis so that there are no further complications and complaints that can worsen the symptoms.

The earlier the Dorian-Gray syndrome is recognized, the better the further course of this disease is in most cases. The treatment itself usually takes place with the help of psychotherapy. However, some sufferers are also dependent on taking medication to alleviate the symptoms.

With this intake, it is important to ensure that it is taken regularly and that the dosage is correct, so that other complications do not occur. If you have any questions or if anything is unclear, you should always consult a doctor. As a rule, self-healing cannot occur in Dorian-Gray syndrome.

It is not uncommon for intensive discussions with one’s own family or with friends and acquaintances to make sense. It is advisable for loved ones to come to terms with the disease in order to better understand and respond to it. Dorian-Gray syndrome usually does not reduce the life expectancy of those affected.

You can do that yourself

Dorian-Gray syndrome is a rather new field of psychological treatment. The person concerned leads and directs his life obsessively towards the need for eternal youth and beauty. Treating this requires professional therapeutic measures and cannot be dealt with in self-help.

The patient has such a false self-image that, as a result of the inevitable course of aging, there are attacks of depression, alcoholism, and the risk of drugs and suicide. The person concerned must learn to question his self-perception and to bring it into balance with the perception of others. This only happens when the sick person is aware of the danger of what he is doing.

As self-help in everyday life, so-called lifestyle drugs such as sexual enhancers, antidepressants and appetite suppressants should be avoided immediately. These drugs have counterproductive health effects. With too frequent aesthetic surgical measures, the cardiovascular system is exposed to unnecessary stresses that affect everyday life.

Photos of your own reflection in the mirror serve as a self-help to face the situation in the presence of an independent, neutral observer. A strengthening of physical acceptance and self-esteem can be achieved through sensible exercise such as swimming, yoga and running. Meditative mindfulness exercises and tai chi bring back the feeling for your own body. In order to cope with suppressed emotions and incorrect eating behavior, it is helpful to keep a diary and visit an artistic social network.

Dorian-Gray Syndrome