The Trichotillomania Freedom Center
BASED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, The Trichotillomania Freedom Center specializes in rapid, permanent, 100% drug-free eradication of trichotillomanic behavior. On average, just 3 to 4 three-hour Accelerated Personal Breakthrough Coaching sessions over the course of about a week as part of our flagship 90-Day Accelerated Personal Breakthrough Coaching program are required to help you achieve substantial or complete relief from even a lifetime of problems with trichotillimania.
What Is Trichotillomania?
Quite simply, trichotillomania is a set of behaviors characterized by compulsive hair-pulling. Sufferers may pull hair from anywhere on their body where it normally appears. Such areas commonly include the scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or other parts of the body, and often result in noticeable bald patches in these areas. Sufferers may also eat/chew the roots of the hair that they pull, a behavior referred to as trichophagia.
While trichotillomania is currently classified as an impulse "disorder", questions persist as to how exactly it should be classified. The behavior at times resembles an addiction, while at other times it may appear to be nothing more than a nervous tic or a habit. Some researchers have estimated the prevalence of trichotillomania in the population to be in the
1-2% range, while others suggest a greater number somewhere on the order of 4-5%.
What Is The Origin of Trichotillomania?
As is the case with many forms of neurotic behavior, stress appears to be the psychological energy that drives trichotillomania. Reduce or eliminate the source of stress, and chances are, the behavior will also be reduced or eliminated. The trick is and always has been how to effectively make that happen.
At BrightLife's Trichotillomania Freedom Center, we know.
Characteristics of Trichotillomania*
Trichotillomania sufferers can live relatively normal lives; however, they may have bald spots on their head, their eyelashes, pubic hair, or brows. Prolonged pulling may affect hair pigment, resulting in white hair regrowth. Permanent hairloss has been reported from extensive pulling. An additional psychological effect can be low self-esteem, often associated with being shunned by peers and the fear of socializing due to appearance and negative attention they may receive. Some "trichsters" (a name for trichotillomania sufferers) wear hats, wigs or style their hair in an effort to avoid such attention.
Many clinicians classify trichotillomania as a habit behavior, in the same family as nail biting (onychophagia) or compulsive skin picking (dermatotillomania). Such challenges are considered by the traditional mental health community to be a cross between mental disorders such as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder, because the sight or feel of a body part causes the sufferer anxiety), and physical disorders such as Stereotypic Movement Disorder because the sufferer performs repetitive movements without being bothered by or completely aware of them. The current classification of trichotillomania as an impulse disorder of the same nature as pyromania, pathological gambling and kleptomania, has been called into question as inadequate and in need of revision. In fact, it's been shown that trichotillomania sufferers are no more likely to have significant personality disorders than anyone else.
However, given the nearly pervasive nature of stress as a causative factor in the development of virtually all psychological symptoms, it should come as no surprise that anxiety, depression, as well as some forms of OCD are more frequently encountered in people with trichotillomania. It is characteristic that they may feel they are the only person with this problem due to low rates of reporting.
What Are The Standard Forms of Treatment for Trichotillomania?
Habit Reversal Training
Among standard treatment options, Habit Reversal Training, or HRT, is one of the commonly used. It is also among the most complex and painstaking forms of cognitive-behavioral approaches for treating trichotillomania. It generally involves the use of a great many activities and exercises, all of which are intended to help sufferers increase their awareness of their behavior. Patients are generally trained to focus on, and then do their best to reduce the tension that precedes the pulling.
Within this particular modality, doctors attempt to train the individual to learn to recognize their impulse to pull and also how to resist this impulse. As a part of the behavioral record-keeping component of HRT, patients are often instructed to keep a journal of their hair-pulling episodes. They may be asked to record the date, time, location, and number of hairs pulled, as well what they are thinking or feeling at the time. The intent is to help the patient learn to identify situations where they commonly pull out their hair and develop strategies for avoiding episodes.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are commonly used in the treatment of trichotillomania. Among these, antidepressants are among the most often used in treating both Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and trichotillomania. Antidepressants are only one of many treatments being tried at this time. There have been a few small and not well-controlled clinical trials of drug treatment for trichotillomania (ie, using such drugs as anafranil, prozac, and lithium).
Unfortunately, no one medication has been shown to have a particular advantage over any other, and drugs alone have not been shown to be particularly effective for many. One of the reasons it's so important to use care in choosing a professional with specific training, experience, and insight into the condition is to avoid being misdiagnosed or overmedicated. Prozac and other similar drugs, which some doctors and psychiatrists prescribe on a one-size-fits-all basis, tend to have limited usefulness in treating trichotillomania, and can often have significant side effects. According to one researcher, Fred Penzel, antidepressants can even increase the severity of the trichotillomania.
Stimulus Control Techniques
Stimulus Control is a well-known behavioral treatment that, in the case of trichotillomania, seeks to help sufferers first identify, and then eliminate, avoid, or change the particular activities, environmental factors, states, or circumstances that trigger hair pulling. The goal is to consciously control these triggers (stimuli or cues, as they are also known) that lead to pulling, and to create new learned connections between the urge to pull and new non-destructive behaviors. It is often combined with Habit Reversal Training, and utilizes the self-recorded information that is a part of that treatment.
In addition to these therapeutic techniques, the individual can also learn to anticipate what kinds of stimuli trigger pulling sessions in order to diminish the amount of hair pulled, or to avoid the pulling completely for that moment. Some of these techniques include keeping fingers occupied with other tasks such as typing, hand crafts (i.e., sewing, knitting, needlework), keeping hands away from face and hairlines, behavior modifications, positive talk, and enlisting the help of friends and family to say stop when "trichsters" are seen pulling.
In the traditional medical and psychiatric communities, trichotillomania is considered a chronic problem. This means that although one can recover from it, it is believed there is no cure.
What Are The Challenges With Traditional Forms of Treatment?
As mentioned above, the traditional medical and psychiatric community considers trichotillomania to be a chronic, ultimately incurable form of mental "disorder". In the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Revision IV), trichotillomania is classified as an Axis I disorder, where such symptoms of a clinical nature and other "major mental disorders" are described and grouped. This would seem to presuppose that the symptoms of trichotillomania are the result of processes and activities that are going on at a totally unconscious level for the sufferer, and are probably the result of something "broken", or that needs to be "fixed" or "cured" on that level.
Yet, while we do believe that these kinds of seemingly irresistable compulsions are entirely the result of subconscious processes, we do not believe this behavior is necessarily evidence of a "mental disorder", per se´. In fact, we believe that people do what they do for a very good reason, whether or not they are consciously aware of what that reason is and generally, they are not.
Why? Because again, whatever "makes" a person want to pull their hair out is virtually an entirely subconscious process not a conscious one. No one tries to have trichotillomania! It's just something that seems to have come upon a person out of nowhere, with very little if any rational explanation available to make any kind of conscious sense out of it.
Yet, an examination of the standard forms of treatment described above clearly show, almost unbelievably, that such treatment programs (with the exception of the use of drugs) are almost totally directed at changing the sufferer's conscious mind not their subconscious mind, where the real shifts needs to take place. To us, this makes no sense at all. It's even silly.
For example, in Habit Reversal Training, the goal is to help the sufferer learn to identify situations where they commonly pull out their hair and develop strategies for avoiding episodes. The problem with this is it requires so much conscious activity on the part of the client. And while it's certainly possible that this form of intervention can be helpful for some of the people some of the time, the fact is, efforts directed at impacting a person's conscious mind are going to be far from the most effective — or even the most efficient — ways of dealing with these kinds of problems.
Why? Because again, the sufferer is not consciously choosing to have this problem in the first place! In fact, if it were possible to consciously choose to stop having this problem, most sufferers would already have done that a long time ago.
But that's not what happens, is it? And that's because you can't think, talk or rationalize a person out of behaviors like this. The fact is, "insight", "awareness" or "understanding" the ultimate goal of most forms of cognitive-behavioral (CBT) therapy is rarely curative. For example, most of us know many people who have been in therapy for years, and who now have all kinds of sophisticated reasons to explain why they do what they do... But they just keep on doing it, don't they?
The fact it, treatment modalities directed primarily at impacting a person's insight, understanding or awareness are almost always likely to fail over the long term, since virtually none of our problems originate at the conscious level. It also tells us that if we want to be effective over the long term, the most useful approach is to direct the bulk of the changework to the subconscious mind, the ultimate source of this problem, and where all real learning, behavior and change must take root.
Just What is "The BrightLife Method"? And How Can You Be So Sure Your Program Will Work For Me?
Our program is disarmingly simple in its approach, yet amazingly quick and effective for the truly committed client.
We at BrightLife have discovered that the most potentially effective way to successfully extinguish trichotillomania quickly and over the long-term is to relegate the majority of the changework we do to the subconscious mind, not the conscious mind. After all, it's a person's subconscious mind that makes them want to continue to pull their hair, no matter how harmful or even painful the person's conscious mind knows the problem to be.
There Is A Positive Purpose for Everything We Do
There is always a positive purpose for anything we ever do even if we think it's something we don't actually want to be doing. This includes the compulsion to pull hair. Given the opportunity, and with relatively little effort, most of our clients are able to quickly realize how their current behaviors actually make a lot of sense when considered in the context of their entire life experience.
The Principle of Economy of Effort
Our brains work on something called the Principle of Economy of Effort. This means our brain would never, ever continue to expend energy on any behavior that it doesn't think is well worth the return on investment. Thus, as with any behavior a person continues to do again and again over time, there is there must be a payoff.
What is that payoff? Well, it can be different for different people. Generally, however, we believe that trichotillomanic behavior is means of "venting" pent-up psychological energy (fear, frustration, hurt, anger, guilt, etc.) resulting from earlier traumatic experiences in life. Such experiences might include a painful divorce among parents, the loss of a family member, being the victim of abuse, etc. Trichotillomania sufferers tend to do, rather than feel invariably because at some earlier point in life, they learned at the unconscious level that to feel equals more pain than to not feel. Yet, they have to vent all that pent-up energy somehow so they act, rather than having to endure the potential pain of feeling.
And therein lies the solution.
You see, using a variety of means, it's possible to identify the earlier trauma(s) in a person's life, and to assist the trichotillomania sufferer to effectively assign a new, more resourceful meaning to those earlier life events (something we call reframing). In other words, we know that what happened so long ago is not really the issue anymore; it's what the person took away from those events in terms of what it all meant to them at the time and the resulting psychological reaction that makes all the difference.
When a person learns to literally perceive those earlier events differently at the unconscious level, mind you so that the meaning they unconsciously assign to what happened is no longer hurtful, debilitating or traumatic, but instead may now actually serve as a source of potential empowerment for the client and his or her future the drive to continue the old attempts at resolving what has now become a resolved issue completely dissappears.
Does It Work? You Bet!
Our work is so effective, we have been featured on numerous local, national and even international print, radio and television, including our appearances in the Montreal Gazette, KNX 1070 NewsRadio in Los Angeles, Esquire Magazine, as well as the Discovery Health Channel's six-part television series, Things That Go Bump: Facing Our Fears. On that program, BrightLife Founder Robert Mantell assisted a client to eliminate an intense twenty-year phobia in just 15 minutes! See the video here.
Eradicate the psychological energy driving the behavior, and the compulsion stops dead in its tracks It's a revolutionary approach by a revolutionary company.
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* Limited excerpts have been borrowed from an article on trichotillomania appearing at the Wikipedia website, at http://en.wikipedia.org.
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