Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder (HPD), could be more common than originally thought. In fact, approximately 2% of the general population struggles with HPD at any given time. But, because HPD sufferers tend to be ashamed of their behaviors, many do not seek treatment, leaving many cases unreported.
Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling (HPD), is a condition that involves pulling at, “messing with,” yanking out, and/or over-plucking (i.e. eyebrows, genital hair, and hair on your arms and legs, and under your armpits) your hair. This behavior not only affects your appearance, but also your self-esteem, sense of self, mood, and quality of life.
Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) like trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling disorder (HPD), can trigger a wide range of emotions and social and psychological issues. It can also impact various areas of your life, such as friendships, romantic relationships, family dynamics, and/or work productivity. The most common feelings associated with HPD are shame, embarrassment, anxiety, depression, mood swings, low self-esteem and self-confidence, body image issues, frustration and loneliness, and guilt.
Can Art Therapy Really Help Reduce BFRBs like hair-pulling disorder (HPD)? Possibly
Approximately 1 in 20 people struggle with a compulsive pulling, picking, or biting disorder like trichotillomania (hair pulling), dermatillomania (skin picking), or onychophagia (nail biting). These BFRBs are listed under the “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders” heading in the DSM-5.
COVID-19 has had an impact on everyone. It has affected people’s mental, emotional, physical, social, sexual, financial, and spiritual lives. This year has been filled with ups-and-downs, uncertainties, sickness, loss and heartbreak, financial hardship, and social isolation. It is enough to cause anyone to struggle with anxiety, but even more so people with mental health conditions like trichotillomania (hair pulling disorder).
In this month’s TrichStop.com webinar with Dr. Vladimir Miletic, he talks about meaning and how meaning applies to therapy for compulsive hair pulling from the perspectives of George Kelly and Paul Watzlawick. In addition to talking about meaning, he describes the therapeutic process by describing his work with a TrichStop.com client. The full webinar is available on YouTube.
Every Person is a Scientist
Dr. Miletic’s discussion on meaning highlighted the work of George Kelly. For those unfamiliar with Kelly, he expanded on Freud’s approach to mental health by changing the premise. Freud’s psychoanalytic approach included a therapist interpreting what was going on with a client in an authoritative manner. However, how would a therapist know what a client experiences? There are myriad influences on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and there is no way for a therapist to know enough about this to be an accurate interpreter.
Internet therapy can be as effective, if not more effective than face-to-face therapy with the added bonus that it costs less.
The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent stay-at-home orders have caused numerous life disruptions, with people forced to switch to internet-based therapy. Many mental health providers agree that in-person therapy is by far the best because interpersonal contact is crucial for developing a trusting therapeutic relationship, but new research suggests that internet therapy is just as effective.
Everyone has a different experience with trichotillomania, and everyone has a different pathway to recovery. Some people do well by training themselves out of behavior patterns, while others require a new perspective. One person, who struggles with trich asked the question, “How would you feel if you were made to pull out someone else’s hair?”
The following are some excerpts from Latent Expressions by Incognito.
“Think about it rationally. How would you feel if you were made to pull out someone else’s hair? Would you like it? Would you feel pleasure in that? Imagine someone close to you. Your loved one – partner, spouse, parent, child – anyone who is close to you. Can you pull out their hair to feel better? You cannot.”
“…you cannot pull out someone else’s hair. Because you know it will be painful for them. Also, you won’t feel that pleasure that you feel when you pull out your hair. That’s precisely the problem then, I guess. I feel pleasure in something that I should feel pain in.”
Managing Trichotillomania, Anxiety and Isolation during the COVID-19 outbreakThe webinar will take place on Thursday, April 9, 18:00 PM EST (US Eastern Time)
We are dealing with an unprecedented worldwide health crisis. In this time of confusion and uncertainty, we decided to organize a webinar to help you cope better with the emotional toll of COVID-19. Attend our webinar if you wish to learn how to:
- Manage and reduce your anxiety during this difficult period
- Keep hair pulling under control
- How to be productive during self-isolation
- How to use this time to dive in deeper
Webinar will last about 1 - 1.5 hours (depending on the length of the Q&A), with a 45-minute presentation and about 15-45 minutes Q&A time, where we can discuss anything you might be curious about. All participants will get handouts and links to additional resources.
Isolation is a hallmark symptom of trichotillomania. People who pull don’t want to be seen because they don’t want anyone to notice how their hairline is different or that they no longer have eyebrows. In therapy, we encourage people with trich to get social support. Now everyone has to isolate.
The pandemic of anxiety
Governments around the world are locking down their countries, states, and cities. It’s bad enough that a super contagious silent virus prowls the air, but now we have to adjust to a new way of doing things by staying home.
Therapists call changes in lifestyle like moving or a relationship change a “significant life event” that contributes to very high stress levels. Often these stress levels go unnoticed because people view these events as “normal.” The COVID-19 pandemic sandwiches two very high stress level significant life events: threat of disease and a complete shutdown of life.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test