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Trichotillomania In College Students

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One afternoon in college, I noticed my friend had cut his hair extremely close and there was a small bald spot near his widow’s peak. I asked about the haircut, and he said with no hesitation, “I have trichotillomania.” He said it in such a way that I should have known exactly what he was talking about. “Tricha-what?” I asked. “Trichotillomania. I pull my hair out.” I remember thinking that this was a really odd bad habit. Flash forward eight years and I find myself with an autistic student plagued by trichotillomania in my classroom. For my friend in college, it was just a weird habit that gave him a slight bald patch. For my student and his classmates, it is a noxious classroom disruption. Trichotillomania can be defined as the “noticeable…show more content…
329). Often, this provides a gratifying or pleasurable feeling to individuals afflicted with this disorder. For some, this behavior can assuage boredom or even tension and most often occurs when the individual is alone (Rapp et al., 1999). It can be defined as specifically as “touching the fingers to the scalp, eyebrow, or eyelashes” (Rapp, Miltenberger, Long, Elliott, & and Lumley, 1998, p. 299). In the four studies I examined, there were multiple reasons and occasions in which hair pulling took place. In total, the studies examined 8 different participants. The oldest was 35 years of age and the youngest was two. The participants also exemplified a wide range of abilities. Three participants in particular, Dylan, Dexter, and Kris all suffered from profound intellectual disabilities (ID) as well as other physical abnormalities (Borrero, Vollmer, Wright, Lerman, & Kelley, 2002 and Rapp et al., 1998). Others, like Andy,…show more content…
Friman and Hove (1987) relied on aversive taste treatment to alter Tom and Lee’s behaviors. This is a form of positive punishment – adding some type of noxious stimuli to decrease behavior. The mothers used a product called “Stopzit” – in the morning, evening, and at any observance of thumb sucking to curb the behavior. Rapp et al. (1998) used habit reversal to effectively “self-manage” the hair pulling behavior in adolescents. This is an effective way to deal with hair pulling, but often not completely successful in adults. Rapp et al. (1998) follow the three parts of habit reversal: Awareness training, competing response training, and social support. These steps involved describing the stimulation felt from hair pulling, finding behaviors that are incompatible with hair pulling, and having parents or family members prompt the competitive response training and praising success. Competing response training, is a form of differential reinforcement. Rapp et al. (1999) uses another form of differential reinforcement with Kris. Although they test other methods including negative reinforcement and positive attention, the predominant piece maintaining Kris’ behavior is the sensory stimulation she receives from manipulating her hair. The researchers gave her 20-25 of her own stray hairs to lay across a white shirt and feel while she was
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