Conflict Resolution

Hair Pulling is a Cultural "Dis-ease"

Abby Rohrer asked:

Many professionals committed to helping hair pullers stop trichotillomania try to end it with medications, hypnotherapy, squeeze toys, or counseling. These can sometimes slow down the problem, but rarely end it for good. In fact, some methods may channel the “hair pulling need” into another addictive behavior.

You can’t solve hair pulling with quick fixes or by sharing your pain with others. To become pull-free for good, your thinking must completely shift. This will improve your life not only because you stopped hair pulling, but also because you have grown as a person by healing your underlying issues.

To break through hair pulling, give up on controlling your urges with willpower. Realize that 80-90 percent of your urge stems from hidden reasons why you began hair pulling in the first place. The cause does not lie only within you – you are not the problem. Hair pulling often comes from unresolved emotional wounds and conflicts about your relationship to your environment and the greater culture.

Hair pullers commonly are highly intelligent and sensitive people who live in a world that does not support a finely-tuned human nature. According to Elaine Aron, PhD, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, this type of sensitivity is common, “it is inherited by 15 to 20% of the population, and indeed the same percentage seems to be present in all higher animals.” (source: Elaine Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person)

Cooperation, the idea that all humans share equal intrinsic value, support for one another’s strengths and conflict-resolution; are highly valued by high-sensitivity hair pullers; however, these traits are frequently lacking both in the culture and in our individual worlds. Instead, our society likes to diagnose, but then often side-steps the underlying problems.

Not only does our environment ignore the underlying social problems that cause abnormal behaviors, but also it actively promotes addiction. Addiction is a great money-maker which can be manipulated as a way to ignore our unsettled anger, fear, and insecurity. We’re “sold” on addiction and look to behaviors such as taking drugs, drinking alcohol, exercising and working excessively. We even believe that these positively build the economy.

Hair pulling most likely will never become a popular, money-making addiction because you don’t have to spend a dime to use it to tamp down your inner conflict and anxiety. Even so, it does become a difficult addictive cycle to escape. You can end it by fixing your conflict about your relationship with yourself, your personal network and the larger world.

We’ve been taught to deal with emotional problems by being stoic. To honestly express our feelings reveals our weak spots. You may begin hair pulling to cope with feeling unable to express your emotions because your family members fear full expression of feelings. As a sensitive person, you may have discovered hair pulling because you are greatly affected by the actions and hidden messages of those around you. You may have felt that the culture, family members, and others silently pressured you not to talk through your feelings, or rushed you to be done. As a wounded “sensitive”, you may need longer to achieve resolution and feel that an issue is settled in your mind.

Sometimes this happens so early in life that we take it in and act it out thereafter. We have little tolerance and outright fear of our feelings and internal process. Hair pulling helps to deal with this inner conflict. But you might have noticed, it does not really solve the issue – it just dances around it.

Acknowledging your truth and changing the way you view the culture are the first steps to healing your trichotillomania. Without this, you will think you are “abnormal” instead of being a legitimately disconsolate soul. You must see that while you have real reasons for hair pulling, it has become a painfully addictive way to cope. The next step is up to you. YOU have to want to delve deep and take back your life. As a local minister once said, “If you want your life to change, you must be willing to experiment with it.”


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