Once upon a time, I would write to conjure up positivity, to attempt to push the boundaries of human feeling. But when darker arts have a lasting hold, this is what tests relationships with writing and with the self to their extreme.
It is a great shame that it is so difficult to make personal experience count in professional or academic writing. The first time I attempted genuine research was looking at Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray through the lens of dysmorphophobia, or body dysmorphic disorder. Of course, it wasn’t random reading of somatoform disorder textbooks that brought this match to my attention, but personal experience.