The Inner World of Trichotillomania

by Abby Leora Rohrer

Inline ImageDo you know what is under the bald patches and missing eyelashes and eyebrows that you see?

My students often share that before they found my healing approach, they did not have a way to uncover or express their truths.

Through years of counseling, willpower, anti-depressants and anxiety drugs, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy, NLP, EFT, EMDR, special diets, supplements, taping their fingers ...through both conventional and alternative treatments, ignoring the problem and even religious or spiritual approaches to end hair pulling, these truths sat silently waiting for the day when my students could finally express their inner experiences.

At last, these are their words...words they were never before able to tell themselves, let alone tell you.

From an 18 year-old student...

"I got very emotional as I always do with my dad. He told me to get my emotional crap together, threatened to take away my car and all kinds of other privileges, all because I was crying. It became clear to me that this putting down of my emotions needed to stop, or I would stop trying to have a relationship with him.

"He acts as if there is something wrong with having emotions, saying problems are never resolved by crying. So through my crying, I finally told him exactly what had made me angry and hurt. I told him there is nothing wrong with my emotional side and I needed him to accept and love EVERY part of me.

"And this is my next truth that I have known, but it really became real to me then. I finally acknowledged what I have always known. I told my dad that ever since I was five and started pulling, I knew that he hated my trich. I told him that I feel that if I were to pull out every single hair on my head, he would not love me. I told him that my trich is a blessing that it has kept me from doing even worse. It was there for me when he never was.

"There were many times when I wanted to die. I told him that I used to stare at knives in our kitchen and wonder what it would be like to die. I wanted to pick up that knife, and I was only five years old. Trich saved me from acting on any of my thoughts. It pulled me through the worst times. My truth is that trich saved my life and I love it for that.

"I feel as if there are expectations I have to meet in order to have my dad's full respect and love. I have always felt this way. I tried to explain that is why I get so upset when I confront him, because I feel as if I am letting him down when I feel. But there is nothing wrong with feeling intensely, especially when it comes to loved ones. And I am not going to let my dad guilt me into thinking there is something wrong with me because there isn't.

"I laid it all out. I stayed strong and didn't let his responses throw me off from making my point. I claimed my power. It was a relief to finally verbalize how I have been feeling for my whole life. This was HUGE for me. I feel as if all my healing work led me to this point that I could finally stand for myself."


And from a few others:

"I realize more and more that I pull when I try to override my own instincts, and I pull for feeling so inadequate so often, and I pull as a way of punishing myself for not living up to a whole host of often contradictory ideals- as if I am wrong no matter what I do."


"Finally seeing trich as an addiction gave me the power to take responsibility and work to end it. Before, I just thought I was crazy and that my purpose in life was to suffer. I believed that my upbringing left me no choice but to find this way to self-medicate. I'm glad to learn I am strong and capable and can find my way to freedom.

"I realized that pulling is equivalent to love for me, meaning I pull when I need love. The funny thing is that deep inside I came to believe that expressing my love is a way that I might hurt other people that I care about. So in order to avoid hurting others it's as if I try to keep myself away from them. It's like I need love but I think I don't deserve it. So by pulling I feel ugly and ashamed, and it's keeping me isolated in my pain and causing me to feel less loved. It's complicated because the only thing I do need is love but I punish myself in a way just because I don't want to hurt anybody else. It's a vicious cycle that I need to break."


Are you beginning to understand how your own hair pulling began and how it solved so many problems back when you began to pull?  Are you beginning to see just why ending it can be so challenging?

To let go of hair pulling for good, you must:

  • First, gain insight about the powerful though painful way you found to cope with life. You needed trich to help you when you didn't have the means or reserves to move forward in a healthier way.
  • Next, you must come to believe that freedom is possible for YOU. Don't follow in the mental footsteps of "J" who just replied to my email with, "Thank you!...but it will never end for me!"  Actually, she's right. It will never end for her until she can believe that it will, because until then she will never take the needed actions to make freedom happen for her.

It is time to take yourself off auto-pilot and take a fresh look around you. You may not realize it yet, but in this moment you likely have the conviction and inner strength to take on the job of getting free. Don't wait another day or another month. Take action today to find your way out of the painful hair pulling cycle!