When people hear the phrase “self-injury,” they generally think about people who cut themselves (cutting). However, cutting is only one type of self-injury.
People use numerous other types of self-injury, including…
- Banging head
- Breaking bones
- Burning themselves
- Picking at skin and/or scabs
- Pulling out hair and/or eyebrows
Pulling out your hair, including your eyebrows, is not a form of self-injury that I see a lot of discussion about, but this form of self-injury happens much more frequently than you might realize.
People who pull out their hair are self-injuring for the same reasons as others who engage in self-injury: They are managing their emotions. The person feels anxiety or other strong negative emotion. When he or she pulls out hair, the anxiety eases. The person continues to pull out his hair because doing so is an effective way to manage the stress.
Of course, pulling out your hair comes with physical consequences, just like any other form of self-injury does. People who pull out their hair can wind up with bald patches on their head. They might have to pencil in their eyebrows with makeup because they have plucked out all of their eyebrow hairs. Also, once all of the hair has been removed, there is nothing left to manage the repressed emotions.
If you self-injure by pulling out your hair, you are not alone. Many people do this but are afraid or ashamed to talk about it. It really does make logical sense why you do this. Whenever you pull out your hair, you feel a reduction in your overwhelming level of anxiety or other strong emotions.
There are other, more positive, ways to cope with your emotions. The best way is to talk about them. Rather than express yourself physically, try talking about what you are feeling. Write down your feelings in a journal. Allow yourself to cry. As you learn to manage your emotions in other, more positive ways, you will feel less of a compulsive to pull out your hair.
- Understanding Self-Injury and the Adopted Child
- Self-Injury from the Traumatized Adopted Child’s Perspective
- Adopted Child and Self-Injury: Cutting and Burning
- How to Help an Adopted Child who Cuts or Burns
- Adopted Child and Self-Injury: Head-Banging
- Adopted Child and Self-Injury: Other Forms of Self-Injury
- Adopted Child and Self-Injury: Advice to Adoptive Parents
- How to Handle Self-Injury as an Adoptive Parent
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt