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Ann Clin Psychiatry. 1994 Sep;6(3):147-52.

The demography, phenomenology, and family history of 22 persons with compulsive hair pulling.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City 52242.


This study reports on the demographics, phenomenology, and family history of 22 compulsive hair pullers. Subjects were recruited through a psychiatric outpatient clinic as well as newspaper advertisements. Subjects completed a semistructured interview focused on hair-pulling behavior and demographics, the Diagnostic Interview Schedule to assess major (Axis I) mental disorders, and the Structured Interview for DSM-III-R Personality Disorders to assess Axis II disorders. The typical subject was a 33-year-old woman who had completed 1 or more years of college and had been pulling her hair for 19 years. Nearly two-thirds met the criteria for a major mental disorder (particularly anxiety and mood disorders), and more than one-half met the criteria for a personality disorder. Nearly three-quarters of first-degree relatives were reported to have a psychiatric disorder, and about 5% were reported to be hair pullers.

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