Artist and advocate for body-focussed repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), Liz Atkin is no stranger to the skinpick.com blog. We first introduced Liz last year when we outlined the highlights of her interview with BBC radio’s Felicity Finch, and then again in July this year when we shared a video of her speaking to an audience about her experiences with compulsive skin picking as part of the Critical Voices Campaign.
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Through her efforts to raise awareness about dermatillomania and other BFRBs through visual art, Liz has become a spokesperson for dermatillomania sufferers everywhere. Her most recent contribution to the campaign to educate others about the condition and foster a better understanding of those suffering with compulsive skin picking, was to display her art at the David Geffen School of Medicine, followed by a talk with students explaining how she uses art to battle dematillomania.
About four times per year, the artist in residence at the David Geffen School of Medicine curates art exhibits to coincide with first- and second-year medical students’ curricula. The motivation behind this is so that students learn to see patients beyond their symptoms and diagnosis, but to rather acknowledge the human struggle that the individual has to endure. This is a wonderful initiative that promotes the development of empathy in doctors. Many times I have had clients who reported having negative experiences with health professionals who did not understand the severity of impact of compulsive skin picking on them, often brushing off their concerns. About 50 students attended the talk after seeing the Liz’s photographs on the walls of the Learning and Resource Centre where many of their lectures take place. Students who attended the event said it provided them a view into the personal experiences a patient may be experiencing as opposed to only understanding the biological or physiological processes. We hope that initiatives like these will result in a generation of health professionals who are more open to learning about these lesser known conditions and will provide patients suffering from BFRBs with the dignified empathy they deserve.