Trichotillomania: The Inside-Outs of Compulsive Hair Pulling
by Abby Leora Rohrer
I recently read this from a practitioner who treats trichotillomania sufferers,
"It is not necessary for you to find or know the cause of your hair pulling."
Whoa! While this sounds good on the surface, there's a big problem with it. The issue is that when hair pullers stop pulling without discovering and
resolving the reasons why they began, they often go on to perform more
self-harming behaviors. Sometimes those behaviors are much more
dangerous than hair pulling.
Also, if you don't learn the
cause of your pulling, how can you be sure that the problem has been
solved and you will never pull again? You'll always be powerless with
your trichotillomania and with those upon whom you rely to help you
Feeling powerless almost always leads to
more hair pulling. This is why my goal is to empower you by continually
providing you with the real inside scoop about trichotillomania. So
let's get started!
It's crucial to understand that for many, trichotillomania, becomes a best friend. Over time, like many close relationships, it both comforts and wounds. Too often, hair pullers, parents and professionals simply want to get rid of the problem without listening to what is being revealed by trichotillomania.
average, for my students, compulsive hair pulling meets 50-75 important
needs. Here is a very brief list of how trichotillomania meets just one
of a hair puller's most crucial needs.
Unlike many other relationships in a puller's life, hair pulling:
Delivers 100% unconditional acceptance.
90% of the hair pullers with whom I’ve been in contact agree with this.
Those of you who don’t pull, need to understand this: For someone who’s
been pulling for six months, hair pulling is fast becoming a primary
relationship, nothing less! For those who’ve been pulling longer, it
already is a primary relationship, even possibly the primary
relationship in the hair puller’s life. Many of my adult women
students, who have husbands and children, still define trichotillomania
as their PRIMARY relationship. Unfortunately, this is the nature of a
Never abandons the hair puller. It is always welcoming and never lets you down. Hair pulling delivers on its ‘promises’.
many of our parents, spouses and even in our own inner lives, when hair
pulling promises to help, it delivers! It will “zone you out”, create
an adrenaline rush, or just shove your uncomfortable feelings
into the background. It delivers just what a hair puller needs whenever
it it needed.
Is the ONE place where many hair pullers feel they can be totally themselves. It has no ‘hard-to-meet’ or uncomfortable expectations of the hair puller other than going for one more pull, which feels good and is easy to do.
pulling allows the hair puller to totally be him/herself, to be
self-focused without criticism. It doesn’t require the puller to
shapeshift or change to please anyone else. If you’re anxious, angry,
ashamed, guilty or afraid, it doesn’t make you change how you feel to
accommodate or “care-take” it.
Paid attention to us.
hair pullers were ‘lost’ children in families where there was neglect,
problems or chaos. Parents don’t always realize that in the midst of a
troubled marriage or divorce, both parents are in emotional turmoil.
When the adults are facing big financial troubles, they are also in
emotional turmoil. As parents, you may be on auto-pilot for awhile,
doing your best to survive, but your highly sensitive child may feel
lost and alone and need a way to comfort herself and to be “seen” and
nurtured. Believe it or not, hair pulling does the job.
Makes the intolerable, tolerable.
many hair pullers are highly-sensitive types who feel/felt trapped in
unhappy family situations with no way out. We believed we had to find a
way survive without going crazy. For some the difficulty came from
living with an ill, depressed or raging family member. Others suffered
too many losses or tragedies in a family in which feeling and finishing
feelings was not allowed. The important thing to note is that for
highly-sensitive hair pullers, pulling makes life tolerable. Please
don’t minimize this!
If you’re an adult hair
puller, you may notice that when you face relationship problems with
your spouse or boss, your hair pulling intensifies. If you live with
someone who forces their opinions on you or has little tolerance for
you to voice your own thoughts and feelings, your hair pulling will
increase. You may also find that during times of high-stress and
crisis, your hair pulling diminishes because, as you step up to the
plate, you feel more empowered, more engaged, more connected with your
truth and less in need of the crutch that hair pulling provides.
Allows the hair puller to feel included and even popular in at least one place in life.
the hair pulling child or teen who feels terribly left out of the loop
either in the family or with peers, trich can soothe the inner pain and
allow the puller to get through the day and go on to the next day. It
offers distraction, a way to dull the terrible inner pain.