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Trichotillomania

July 19, 2009

I wrote this for another site I use, but I thought I’d share it here.

What is it?
Trichotillomania, or Trich, is an impulse control disorder where the person has a difficult to control urge to pull out their hair (e.g. head hair or eyebrows/eyelashes) and from this receives a feeling of pleasure. It can also be described as self- harming behaviour. Trich is an official psychiatric disorder, which can be characterised by noticeable recurrent hair loss; a feeling of tension before pulling out the hair or trying to resist and a feeling of pleasure when the hair is pulled; the Trich can’t be accounted for by another medical condition and finally, the act causes significant distress in functioning. The distress can be caused by unwanted attention, guilt and low self esteem from doing it.

Why do it?
Because it feels good, and sometimes it’s an impulse you don’t even realise you’re doing.
Who does it?
Facts and figures are far and few between, but it is thought around 1 in 50 people suffer from Trichotillomania. Pulling is 5 to 10 times more common in girls around the ages of 12 and 13 than boys.
I’m a trich. I’ve pulled my hair out since I was about 11/12 (I’m now 19) and throughout this time, especially during high school, I was frequently bullied for my lack of eyebrows and eye lashes. I always knew I was doing something bad, especially because my parents would ‘have words’ with me about my lack of lashes and how it wasn’t healthy etc but I always kept going, just I wouldn’t do it publicly. A couple of years ago, I realised how it was affecting me: everyone in my family has long, thick lashes whilst I had none, so I wanted to stop. I was given advice to keep my nails short, put Vaseline/oil on my lashes and to just resist the urge. None of this worked, but what I have found is that if I’m aware of the whole thought process I can do it less. I’m working down to doing it less and less, but it’s very difficult; for me nothing rivals the feeling.
Resources
Trich isn’t a well known about condition, even medical type people aren’t wholly aware of it, so there is very little information around on it, but try googleing if need be.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2009 9:05 pm

    As you know I am too. Not my eyelashes but my head hair. I’ve been doing it since I was about 8 I think. It was after I got chickenpox and I spent a lot of time itching my head. I used to have very very thick, plentiful hair and now I have thin useless hair.

    • July 19, 2009 10:09 pm

      I pick at my scalp a lot too, it’s not really my hair but my scalp? It’s the whole problem with it being ‘pleasurable’ because it does actually feel nice… oops!

  2. July 19, 2009 9:08 pm

    That’s a brave post 🙂 I hope writing it helped you. And thanks for explaining, it’s something I’d never really heard of before.

    • July 19, 2009 10:10 pm

      I haven’t really thought through the consequences of posting it yet, that’s why 😉 I really wrote it for another place I’m on, but I thought why not about putting it on here!

  3. July 21, 2009 10:33 am

    Wow, I never knew that existed. I thought I was just a weirdo. Thanks for posting 🙂

    On the plus side, I can now add OCD and/or SH to my list of true mentalist traits! 😛

  4. April 29, 2010 10:46 pm

    I love that you posted this. trich doesn’t get as much coverage as it should.

    I’m almost fifteen and have it, but have managed to abstain from pulling for a little over a year, now. I still feel the effects of it, though, and trich has definitely changed the way I think of myself and my relationships with other people.

    anyway. it’s so easy to feel alone with it sometimes, since it’s not really something that anyone likes to talk about, but posts like this really help.

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