Sunday, July 28, 2013


I chose something a bit different for my blog post.  I was watching my strange addiction the other day and came across this obsessive disorder.  Trichtotillomania is a disorder in which a sufferer pulls their hair.  This can range from anywhere from your head, facial air, pubic hair, or armpit hair.  This can result in very noticeable bald patches.  The severity of the hair pulling varies.  For some just an awareness of the disorder can help in stopping the urge to pull.  For other it isn't so simple

Doctors are not yet sure what causes Trichtotillomania.  Many think that the disorder is relation to OCD.  Experts think that that compulsive behavior may be a result of an imbalance in the brain's chemistry.  Something is interfering with the neurotransmitters in the brain and as a result problems like compulsive and repetitive behaviors arise.  According to
 "While the underlying biology is not clearly understood at this time, we do know that people with trichotillomania generally have a neurologically based predisposition to pull their hair as a self-soothing mechanism. The pulling behavior serves as a coping mechanism for anxiety and other difficult emotions. It does not hurt and they are not trying to damage themselves. While the average age of onset is 11, trich can be found in children as young as one year old. Onset of trich can be trigged by simple sensory events, such as itchy eyelashes, or by stressful life events, and it can occur quite suddenly."

Trich can lead to both emotional and physical consequences.  For many their hair pulling creates a sense of shame. This can lead to potential social issues and well as severe depression.  Some people are so concerned with covering up their hair loss and and hair pulling that it can cause serious family issues

In addition to the psychological effect Trich can have it can also have a serious physical effect as well.  Up to 50% of the people who pull their hair also ingest it.  This can range from nibbling on the hair and follicles to swallowing the hair whole.  This can result in a bezoar or giant hair ball that if not removed surgically can be fatal.

Treatment for Trichtotillomania is a bit complicated because some treatments work differntly with different people.  Trich is a brain condition, so it isn't as simple as just "kicking a habit".  For many it is a chronic illness that takes years to overcome.  For many they do not even realize that they are pulling their hair.  However, there are some treatments that have been found effective in helping.  Many times treatment includes therapy, drugs, or a combination of both.  There are also a number of support groups that people can join.

If you would like to read more about Trich you can visit my sources!  Also I included a clip of the "My Strange Addiction Episode" I watched


  1. I remember studying the disease in my body image class several years ago with Dr. Vanata. I think this is so interesting to look at the biological standpoint more in depth.

  2. Watching the video and seeing the giant hairball nearly made me sick! It is crazy to me that pulling your hair and eating the follicles is almost like smoking. The person can stop at any time, it is not a disease it is an addiction. Pulling her hair and eating it is like her high, her nicotine.

  3. Given that it sometimes accompanies anxiety, do you know whether counseling is an affective treatment? I do have to agree that it is a little disgusting to see a human hairball. Do you know how one goes about diagnosing it? I would imagine that eventually the hairball would become so big it would be painful, but are there any other ways to detect it earlier?

  4. I have never heard of this disorder. I remember seeing a show years ago about a little girl that was obessesed with eating her hair. She developed a large hairball in her stomach and eventually had to have it surgically removed. I wonder if she had this disorder.

    This disorder seems so strange to us but I would imagine, like most disorders, it is hard to understand unless you suffer from it. Watching the video, I think, "why doesn't she just stop doing it"? Nevertheless, I realize (from my field of study) it's not always that simple.

  5. It takes quite a bit to gross me out, but that giant hairball did it. I did not know about this disorder and found your post interesting.