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BFRBs and Why You've Never Heard of Them

Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior (BFRB) is a term used to describe disorders that cause people to pull out their hair, pick their skin, bite their nails, or repeatedly damage their body in some other way. These aren’t just habits, but rather very complex psychological disorders that result in substantial physical damage to the hair or skin.

While the BFRB is self-inflicted, it is not the same as self-harm. People with BFRBs are not trying to inflict pain or harm to themselves, and in fact often find that the behavior is self-soothing, similar to thumb-sucking. Individuals with a BFRB usually want desperately to be able to stop the behavior; yet, at the same time find the behavior to be very positively reinforced.

Current research suggests that three percent or more of the population has a BFRB, which is over ten million people in North America alone. Despite these disorders being more common than anorexia, most people have never heard of them. This is due to the stigma...

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