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Title Exploring the Discourses of Compulsive Hair-Pulling: A Body-Mapping Study
Publication Date
University/Publisher Wilfrid Laurier University
Abstract Compulsive hair-pulling (which is sometimes diagnosed as the OCD-Related Disorder, Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviour, "Trichotillomania)" is an understudied experience that has significant social and emotional impacts on the women that it affects. This study focused on the meanings that are derived from the interactions that women with compulsive hair-pulling experience with social discourses surrounding mental illness, physical appearance, and behaviour. Guided by relativist ontology and the co-creation of understanding between researcher and participants, this qualitative exploration was guided by anti-oppressive practice and used an arts-based research method called Body-Map Storytelling. In group format, four women were invited to describe their knowledge, experiences, and journey visually on a life-sized tracing of their own body over five consecutive weekly sessions. The end result of these sessions was a life-sized depiction of each person's visual telling of their story, which had been co-created within the context of guided facilitation through the sessions. The visual data and the participants’ personal narratives of creating the body maps were analyzed thematically. The participants shared contrasting experiences of wanting to be both visible and invisible, feeling whole and fragmented, and building oneself up and breaking oneself down. They shared the impacts of compulsive hair-pulling on the pressure that they feel; from self and others, around self-disclosure, to meet social expectations and how they resist this pressure. Participants shared the impacts of being labelled and how they accept, reject and resist labels. The final theme arising from analysis was that of self-guardianship. These findings add to current knowledge on compulsive hair-pulling, mental illness stigma and visual research methodologies as an example of a study guided by anti-oppressive theory conducted by a researcher who herself shares the identity of compulsive hair-puller with the research participants.
Subjects/Keywords mental health; Trichotillomania; Arts-Based Research; Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours; Compulsive Hair-Pulling; Anti-Oppressive Practice; Social Work
Language en
Rights 2 Publicly accessible
Country of Publication ca
Format application/pdf
Record ID oai:scholars.wlu.ca:etd-3183
Repository wilfrid-laurier
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2020-01-06

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…to genetic factors such as alopecia, or environmental factors such as chemotherapy appears to be attended to more commonly than hair loss due to Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours. Due to the behavioural connection in the case of compulsive hair…

…Chapter One: Introduction Defining Terms Compulsive Hair-Pulling (CHP): The behaviour or act of one pulling hair out of their body compulsively. This can be associated with the diagnosis of the Obsessive-Compulsive (OCD)Related Disorder…

…Trichotillomania. Compulsive Hair-Puller / Hair-Puller: A person who pulls out their hair compulsively. This term is used, as well as the term Compulsive Hair-Pulling (CHP) in this report to refer to people who pull out their hair compulsively. Please…

…compulsively often suffer from feelings of shame and isolation due in part to perceptions that few others share or understand their experience. A search of existing literature on Trichotillomania and compulsive hair-pulling yields generous results in the fields…

…isolation are among the many psychosocial issues that individuals living with compulsive hair-pulling face (Casati, 2010) and estimates of its prevalence rates are highly varied. It is generally agreed upon that prevalence rates, estimated to be…

…2016). In addition to there being no known etiology, current research identifies no distinct guidelines for its treatment (Dixon, 2016). In contrast to the modest presence of compulsive hair-pulling on academic and medical radars, and its…

…personal experience of living with hair-pulling, attending and facilitating peer support groups and facilitating information workshops for clinicians that much of the difficulty of living with compulsive hair-pulling (and other BFRBs) is…

…facilitate. I first envisioned an exploration of the specific labelling of compulsive hair-pulling as a ‘problem’ after reading Melissa Marie Dixon’s 2016 PhD dissertation. She asked what the effect on hair-pullers might be of others’ conceptualizing of hair…