Body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB) are a group of behaviors where a person repetitively acts on their body in a way that unintentionally harms themselves or changes their appearance. It can take many forms such as pulling out hair, eyebrows or eyelashes as in a condition called trichotillomania. BFRBs can also take the form of skin picking, nail or cuticle biting or biting the inside of the cheek. BFRBs were previously thought of as impulse control disorders, but has since its inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual been classifiedas a disorder related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. The individual knows that the behavior can be harmful to themselves but are unable to resist the urge.
The term Body Focused Repetitive Behaviour (BFRB) refers to the compulsive repetitive behaviour that some people engage in that actually causes harm to them and has a detrimental, unsightly effect on their appearance. These compulsive behaviours which usually occur in adolescence or in adulthood and can be triggered by some form of trauma, stress or other psychological conditions like depression and anxiety. There are different types of BFRBs which include pulling one's hair out -including eyebrows and eyelashes (trichotillomania), skin picking (excoriation), and nail and cuticle biting (onchopagia).The two most well known forms of BFRBs are trichotillomania and excoriation, however there is still little research on how to treat these conditions. People who engage in these behaviours may find it temporarily relieves the
The Plight of Pullers and Pickers
There sadly is not as much information or research available on disorders like skin picking or hair pulling disorder as there should be. However, today’s awareness of psychiatric compulsive disorders and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs) can be attributed to a growing number of sufferers’ willingness to share their stories through online support forums and on social media platforms, such as YouTube, Face Book, websites and personal Blogs. In the digital age, someone living with a BFRB can openly tell their stories and experiences to the World Wide Web. They can share things that they have found helpful in managing their disorders and easily connect with others. This in turn opens a channel of communication for other sufferers who are able to find more information on their disorder and see that they are not alone in their struggle.
Trichotillomania is a disorder that primarily deals with recurring urges to pull the hair from one's scalp, eyebrows, or any other areas of the body. Those suffering from the disorder feel as though they are unable to stop, and hair pulling will often leave bald or patchy spots. This in turn causes significant distress and can also interfere with social/work functioning. People who have trichotillomania may in fact go to great lengths to disguise their loss of hair. For some people, trichotillomania may actually be mild and generally manageable for them. For others, the urge to pull hair is compulsive and overwhelming. Some treatment options have in the past helped people reduce their hair pulling, or even stop entirely.
Emotional regulation is a very important human skill. It is a complex process where initiation, inhibition and modulation of a person’s state or behavior in a certain situation are involved. In simpler words, our thoughts, feelings, heart rate and bodily actions are controlled by our emotions. At times we may act or say things we regret later. Techniques like meditation and yoga enable us to improve our mood and increase our compassion.
Emotional Regulation Problems
Kennneth Barish Ph.D. is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University and author of “Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems.” He says people ask him why their child keeps on acting in a certain way i.e. hitting his siblings, refuses to do his work and/or lie, knowing that he will be punished for his behavior. The answer to this question is,
The physical effects of Trichotillomania are relatively easy to detect. Sufferers of the disorder are usually left with the tell-tale bald patches on their heads and sparse eyebrows or eyelashes. Stress and your genes might play a part in your propensity towards compulsive behaviors. People who have other obsessive compulsive disorders may be more likely to develop a behavior like Trichotillomania. The experts think the urge to pull happens because the brain’s chemical signals (neurotransmitters) don’t function optimally. Negative emotions associated with the disorder can wreak havoc on the sufferers wellbeing and self esteem. Since the emotional effects are hidden and internalized, unlike the physical effects, they are significantly more difficult to cope with.
Trichotillomania is generally described as a condition in which a person compulsively pulls their hair out of their scalp until bald patches appear on their head, or they are left without hair. According to a recently published research paper on trichotillomania, it is:
"a disorder that involves persistent and excessive removal of hair from one's body (e.g., scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes), resulting in evident hair loss."
Rapunzel syndrome is the name given to an extremely rare medical condition that arises when a person eats their own hair or hair extensions. The clinical term for the ingestion of hair is trichophagia and can have fatal consequences. As a result of the human body's inability to digest hair, any hair or synthetic fibre such as wool, that is eaten accumulates over time into a mottled, enmeshed mass in the digestive tract, blocking it. Surgery is usually required to remove these hairballs, known as trichobezoars that can cause extreme discomfort and even become life-threatening, resulting in death.
The Pull Thru blog is a fresh new online resource that tackles a grim topic like Tricholomania with an incredible sense of humour and wit. Blogger Lindsey, a “Trichster” herself; has pulled her eyebrows and eyelashes for as long as she can remember. She started the blog to empower Trich sufferers and promises that visitors to her site can find “everything Trichollomania, in one place”. She intends to arm visitors with as many Trich hacks as she can. The site provides advice for those with the disorder, coping strategies and tried and tested products.
Online Test for Trichotillomania
Find Out The Severity of Your Hair Pulling With This Free Online Test