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Myth: BFRBs are caused by trauma

Some people assume that hair pulling, skin picking, nail biting, cheek biting, and associated behaviors are signs of some unresolved issue or problem that needs to be addressed, including past trauma. There is no evidence supporting the belief that BFRBs are associated with past trauma or are caused by past trauma. BFRBs are also not a form of self-harm.

Only 50% of people report any negative event around the time they started pulling. However, these negative events were not traumatic events, but more like “my family moved” or “my teacher left the school.” The truth is that many, if not most people with BFRBs, grew up in households filled with love and support. Unfortunately, too many misinformed clinicians tell people that if they have a BFRB, there must have been a trauma in their past. This is not only confusing, but wrong.