A new study suggests that behavioral therapy plus medication is the most effective approach to treating trichotillomania, a psychiatric disorder characterized by obsessive hair pulling.
Trichotillomania, the irresistible urge to pull out one’s hair, often starts early – the average onset age is 12 to 13 – and is surprisingly widespread. Help for Hair Pullers reviews the latest treatment options and offers effective cognitive-behavioral techniques for controlling this disorder. Web resources are also included.
Western Suffolk Psychological Services, Huntington, NY. Text provides an overview of this disorder, explaining its causes, treatment options, effective medications, and cognitive and behavioral treatments. Also includes questionnaires, clinical rating scales, and the official DSM diagnostic criteria.
A nineteenth-century French dermatologist combined the words trich (hair), tillo (to pull), and mania (uncontrollable) to give the name trichotillomania to the compulsive, irresistible urge to pull out hair.
We’ve all heard that you can’t judge a book by its cover, and that is certainly true of Trichotillomania. The Medusa-like figure on the jacket suggests that patients with trichotillomania are evil, mythical creatures, rather than real people with a troublesome disorder. Fortunately, the authors are well aware of the difficulties faced by these patients; they do a superb job of characterizing the clinical aspects of the disorder and providing a careful review of its pathophysiologic features and treatment. Francois Hallopeau, a French dermatologist, coined the term trichotillomania by combining the Greek words trichos (meaning hair), tillein (meaning to pull), and mania (meaning madness, or an abnormal penchant or morbid impulse). Although mania has since come to be regarded as a form of psychosis, the term accurately describes the compulsive nature of hair pulling.
This edited text outlines a comprehensive behavioral approach to the assessment, analysis, and treatment of tic disorders, trichotillomania, and repetitive behavior disorders, such as thumb sucking, nail biting, pica, bruxism, and other habits.
Following are the best health articles in March 2006:
Trichotillomania (TTM) is an impulse control disorder characterised by the repeated urge to pull out scalp hair, eyelashes, nose hair, ear hair, eyebrows or other body hair. It is believed to be related to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The cause of trichotillomania is not known. Because hair has prominent symbolic importance in most cultures and has been equated with beauty in women and power in men, it is not surprising that various psychological interpretations of hair pulling have been proposed. Some emphasize principles of learning and conditioning as critical mechanisms in the genesis and development of trichotillomania. Other explanations suggest that biological factors play significant roles. So far, the validity of these explanations has not been established using systematic scientific methods. It is likely that more than one mechanism is responsible for the disorder.
Trichotillomania is hair loss caused by compulsive pulling and/or twisting of the hair until it breaks off. The hair may be lost in round patches or diffusely across the scalp. The effect is an uneven appearance. Other hairy areas may be plucked, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, or body hair.