Slowly, a voice is rising. This voice is one of a disorder that has been around perhaps forever (as far as humans are concerned), but never acknowledged, listened to, or given solace. It is the voice of trichotillomania (TTM, “trich”), or compulsive hair pulling.
So much suffering has been endured by those struggling with this problem, and yet few even knew it existed. Until now.
Finally, as a result of tireless hard work and perseverance, the medical, research, and therapeutic communities are beginning to take seriously the distressing challenges of hair pulling and related disorders such as skin picking.
Along with many others, I have devoted the past two decades to raising public awareness, developing resources, and consulting with clinicians to improve treatment. Through these efforts a wonderful national organization has evolved to serve the trich community – the Trichotillomania Learning Center (TLC). TLC is very much a grassroots organization, primarily funded by sufferers and their family members through memberships, donations and attendance at our events. It has been a slow and difficult road, but I do believe that we are finally at the tipping point, and that things will move more quickly from now on in this field. A clear indicator of this is that more and more people in the general public are vaguely familiar with trich, and the word itself has been the winning clincher in at least one spelling bee!
TLC is working to support rigorous scientific research, developing training materials for treatment providers, and constantly adding to our resources, all to better serve the community. Concurrently to these efforts, more and more individuals like Gary are stepping up to share their personal experiences with this misunderstood and often misdiagnosed disorder. Ultimately, this will help others come to terms with their own struggles in healthier ways, and lay the groundwork for what I hope will be a public awareness paradigm shift. The landscape for those of us who struggle with this problem is finally changing! There is still a long way to go, but today the road is becoming both easier to navigate - and - there are more folks willing to walk openly upon it.
Gary’s personal story, his intimate sharing of the progression of the disorder and its impact on his life, is a poignant one. A classic tale of a Midwestern farm upbringing, both his struggles and the perseverance to succeed in spite of the trich come through loud and clear.
There are still very few personal memoirs about this subject, and up until now I believe not any from a man’s perspective. That makes this book even more valuable, as I hope it opens the door for other men to step forward, release feelings of isolation and shame, and seek relief.
It is only when we are willing to own the truth of our experience that we can then take the necessary steps to change our world, and thus also impact the world of those around us.
Gary has owned his truth, and given voice to his experience. May his insights and evident loving nature provide a source of inspiration and motivation to all who read this book!