Although trichotillomania is classified as a compulsive control disorder rather than an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), it does feature the irresistible urges that are part of the compulsive component of OCD.
Trichotillomania is described as a psychological disorder in which the sufferer is unable to control the urges to pull their hair out by the root.
It can refer to hair on any part of the body, and in severe cases can lead to bald patches.
As is the case with other “disorders” in FasterEFT, we recognize this condition as a coping skill rather than a disorder.
What Causes Trichotillomania?
Medical science has determined that, although there is no known cause for the condition, it seems to be triggered by stress or depression.
Robert explains how all problems are caused by subconscious records:
Traumatic events cause the individual to develop a coping skill.
The nature of the human system is to find ways to survive and thrive within their environment, based on the existing data the subconscious has already accumulated.
Since each individual’s life experience is unique, depending on the combination of experiences and the fact that the subconscious is filtering every new experience through existing data, giving it meaning and storing it as further “evidence”, coping skills vary dramatically from person to person.
Here’s an example of how trichotillomania can develop:
Susan experienced a trauma when she was around three years old.
Her subconscious filtered this experience through the existing data it carried; and based on that data, it interpreted that traumatic event and others to mean that Susan was not safe.
With her body in a fight-freeze-or-flight state, her brain processed the information, and her subconscious filed the information for future reference.
Susan’s feelings of being unsafe increased over the years, as each new experience was filtered through the “evidence” her subconscious already contained.
Susan’s subconscious is continuously referring to the “proof” it contains that she is not safe, and it is therefore continuously “ringing the alarm bell”.
This results in prompting her brain to trigger her organs to produce the stress chemicals that will put her body into the fight-freeze-or-flight state.
By the time Susan reached 12 years old, her body and brain were programmed to spend most of her waking hours in the emergency state of fight-or-flight. T
his was her natural survival mechanism.
For more detailed information on this, read How Does FasterEFT Work – The Science Behind FasterEFT.
In an attempt to relieve the constant feelings of anxiety and helplessness, Susan starts pinching herself.
This seemed to help since the pain causes a different chemical reaction in the body – diluting the stress chemicals.
She starts pulling at the hairs on her arm, triggering a slightly different sensation of pain.
She finds relief from the anxiety in not only her body’s reaction to the pain but in the action of pulling the hair.
Her subconscious registers this action and response, and her brain begins to form a neural connection between anxiety, the action and feeling of pulling her hair, and the sensations of relief.
It also links satisfaction to this connection.
Her subconscious now has a structure it is referring to, that “proves” she needs to pull her hair out in order to free herself (even if only temporarily) from the overwhelming anxiety.
Her brain has linked the action and pain related to pulling her hair out with turning off the fight-freeze-or-flight state.
Each time she pulls her hair out, endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals dilute the stress chemicals, causing the body to start to return to a normal state.
Since Susan’s body is unable to turn off the emergency fight-or-flight state, and this stress state has now become the normal default state, the stress chemicals cause a constant buildup of tension and anxiety.
And since the only way Susan’s brain and body have learned to turn off that state is through pulling her hair out, the anxiety and tension – the effects of those chemicals – will increase until she takes that action.
It’s like a balloon with air being constantly pumped into it; and with no way to turn off the air, the only way to prevent the balloon from bursting is to pull open the top of the balloon to allow some of the air to escape before the pressure causes it to burst completely.
The compulsion Susan feels is physical; not emotional.
The Solution to Trichotillomania
Medical science has not been able to find a consistently effective treatment for trichotillomania.
The most common treatments are medication, talk therapy to address emotional problems, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) – usually involving habit-reversal therapy.
However, none of these has been found to be effective for every case; and one of the reasons for this may be that they are designed to address the symptoms rather than the cause of the condition.
The most popular treatment – habit-reversal therapy is aimed at helping the person become aware of the triggers that result in the hair-pulling and to replace the hair-pulling with alternative behaviors.
However, when you consider the fact that the hair-pulling is the method of relieving the tension and anxiety caused by the body’s stress fight-or-flight response – and that the fight-or-flight response is caused by the brain triggering the organs to produce stress chemicals.
It is the subconscious that prompts the brain to send those signals, based on the information it contains regarding what is perceived to be a threat to survival – the solution is clearly to change that original data. The solution is to change the original information that is causing the knock-on effect, rather than simply trying to change the symptoms.
Using FasterEFT for Trichotillomania
In the first place, it is essential to understand that if you are currently on prescribed medication, or if your doctor has prescribed medication for you, you must continue with that medication and consult your doctor if you wish to stop taking it.
There is no need to stop taking medication or other treatment you have been prescribed in order to use this technique.
Continue any treatment you are receiving, and consult your doctor for help if you wish to stop taking it – you can do this while you are using FasterEFT.
You can do both until your doctor advises you that you are ready to responsibly come off of the medication you are taking.
If you haven’t yet consulted a medical professional regarding your symptoms, you need to do so immediately.
Start by thinking back to when you first noticed you were pulling your hair.
What is your earliest memory?
Then, go back beyond that, and take note of any traumas or other emotional experiences that stand out in your memory.
Make a note of every event and experience that could have been traumatic.
Go through the list, and start with the one that had the biggest impact.
You may find some of them change automatically as you go through them since you’ve already cleared and flipped others that were connected and formed part of the structure.
If you have particularly intense or traumatic memories, you may want to talk to a certified FasterEFT practitioner rather than attempting them on your own.
Once you have cleared and flipped these memories, make a note of the triggers you know of that cause you to pull your hair.
In other words, you may not be aware of all of them (since trichotillomania can be an unconscious and automatic behavior that you are unaware of while you’re in the middle of it), but make a note of what you do know.
Think back to when you remember realizing you’ve pulled your hair, and notice what you remember happening around that time.
Next, go through each trigger – imagine or remember it happening, notice how you feel and where in your body you feel it; and then tap, using FasterEFT until the memory, thought or feeling flips.
Do this with each trigger – be thorough, just as you would in weeding a garden.
You need to make sure you completely flip each trigger rather than simply making it less intense.
If you take out most of a weed, it will grow back.
You need to remove the entire weed with its root.
In the same way, you need to completely flip all of the triggers and bad memories.
From now on, whenever you feel anxiety or experience any other feelings or thoughts that bother you, make sure you nip it in the bud by using FasterEFT to tap right then – in the moment.
If you can’t tap physically because you’re in public, use Mental Tapping.
Are You Replacing Hair-Pulling with Tapping?
FasterEFT works by changing the original data in the subconscious that cause the body’s stress response – that results in the compulsion to pull hair.
Tapping is part of the FasterEFT technique rather than a form of habit reversal therapy.
However, it can be a useful replacement for hair-pulling in the moment, as an additional benefit while you are working on changing your memories.
7-Year-Old’s Trichotillomania Transformed Using FasterEFT
7-year-old Madeline, daughter of a psychotherapist, had severe trichotillomania and claustrophobia – partly stemming from traumas involving being locked in closed spaces.
Her parents had tried medication and traditional therapy but had seen no results.
After a couple of FasterEFT sessions with Robert G. Smith (founder of FasterEFT), Madeline’s hair grew back within six months. Robert taught the little girl how to use FasterEFT on her own – tapping on herself – and her trichotillomania completely disappeared.
To hear Madeline’s mother share the story, watch the video below:
Here are a few resources to get you started:
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