Trichotillomania and skin-picking: A phenomenological comparison

Authors

  • Christine Lochner M.A.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, MRC Unit on Stress and Anxiety Disorder, University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
    • Department of Psychiatry, MRC Unit on Stress and Anxiety Disorder, University of Stellenbosch, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • Daphne Simeon M.D.,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, New York , New York
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  • Dana J.H. Niehaus M.Med.,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, MRC Unit on Stress and Anxiety Disorder, University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • Dan J. Stein M.D., Ph.D.

    1. Department of Psychiatry, MRC Unit on Stress and Anxiety Disorder, University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
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Abstract

Although trichotillomania and pathological skin-picking are both characterized by repetitive self-injurious stereotypic behaviors, the former is classified as an impulse control disorder, while the latter is not given a specific diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edition) [APA, 1994]. There are, however, few empirical data on phenomenological similarities and differences between these disorders. Patients with trichotillomania and pathological skin-picking were compared in terms of several demographic (age, gender), clinical (comorbid axis I and II disorders), and personality variables.

Trichotillomania and pathological skin-picking were very similar in demographics, psychiatric comorbidity, and personality dimensions. Dissociative symptoms may be more common in trichotillomania than in pathological skin-picking. These data support the concept of phenomenological overlap between trichotillomania and pathological skin-picking. Future work to assess the implications of overlap for clinical evaluation and intervention in the two conditions may be useful. Depression and Anxiety 15:83–86, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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