“Trichster”: Coping with Hair-Pulling Disorder

Living with the most common disorder you’ve never heard of… (Tagline for Trichster)

A crowd-funded awareness-raising documentary now available at such sites as Amazon Prime Video and iTunes, Trichster is filmmaker Jillian Corsie‘s look at seven individuals who suffer with trichotillomania—sometimes called “trich” or TTM—a hair-pulling disorder currently listed as an Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders in the DSM-5.

Reportedly, Corsie’s desire to make this movie originated from having a close friend who’d felt unable to share her secret (per Tasneem Abrahams, Trichstop.com). 

Trichster‘s website states about this relatively unknown condition that “it’s been associated within the family of  body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs), which includes skin picking and nail biting. The ultimate takeaway being that this is a behavior that the sufferer cannot control. They can’t simply stop pulling.”

How prevalent is it? “An estimated fifteen million people in the United States suffer from this disorder, yet it remains unknown to the majority of the public. Trichster aims to normalize this disorder, which often isolates and alienates its sufferers, by showcasing the perspective of those who live with it every day.”

The TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors offers additional facts, some of which follow:

  • About 1 or 2 in 50 people experience trichotillomania in their lifetime
  • Commonly begins just before teenage years
  • In adulthood affects many more females than males
  • But when it begins in childhood, affects about as many males as females
  • Exists on a continuum of severity
  • Pulling may involve different parts of body from person to person
  • Not considered a sign of deeper psychological issues
  • Not considered a type of self-harm
  • Preferred treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in various forms; medication may also help

Although probably not widely viewed, Trichster has received very favorable ratings from viewers. In the trailer below meet the persons of Trichster, who were followed for a year of their lives:

If you’re interested in learning whether you may have trichotillomania, an online test is available at the website Trichstop. Additionally, the same site offers an online therapy program and online forum.

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