Managing Trichophilia – a Hair Fetish

Commonly known as a hair fetish, trichophilia is a condition when a person feels attracted to or sexually aroused by human hair. This does not necessarily refer to the hair on the head, though the most common focus is generally on human head hair. It can be any type of human hair, including armpit hair, chest hair, or pubic hair. Trichophilia can present as either a long-hair or short-hair fetish. It can also show up as a haircut fetish or a fetish for hair pulling. Read on to find out everything you need to know about managing trichophilia – the hair fetish.

What is Trichophilia?

Trichophilia is a hair fetish. It is a condition where someone feels attracted to or sexually aroused by human hair.(1,2) While the most common attraction is with human head hair, the fascination may also be with armpit hair, chest hair, or pubic hair. Trichophilia can be present as a fetish with long or short hair, a fetish with hair pulling, or even a haircut fetish.(3)

While having a sexual preference with hair is not that uncommon, it is considered to be fine as long as no one is getting hurt. The actual percentage of people who have this condition remains unknown, but it is a fetish that both men and women can have trichophilia.(4)

Trichophilia is classified as a type of paraphilia. A paraphilia is a type of erotic fascination with anything other than the genitalia of a consenting partner. Paraphilia, or fetishes, is more common than most people think.(5,6,7)

According to a 2016 study, it was discovered that almost half of the 1040 participants of the study showed an interest in at least one paraphilic category mentioned in the study.(8)

Trichophilia can occur in several ways in a person. A person with trichophilia can derive sexual pleasure from touching, viewing, and in some rare cases, eating hair. Most people with trichophilia are reportedly drawn to hair since their childhood itself. They report being drawn first to shampoo commercials that feature hair in a very prominent manner.

People with trichophilia are typically attracted to a certain type of hair. For example, triggers for the condition may include:

  • Hair that is straight and long
  • Hair of a particular color
  • Hair that is curly
  • Hair that has been styled in a certain way, such as in rollers
  • Manipulation of the hair in a specific way during sexual acts, such as pulling or twisting.

Even just touching hair can sometimes bring the affected person to orgasm. Having a hair fetish can involve any texture, color, or other aspect of hair. Trichophilia can also involve any type of interaction with hair, such as touching, grooming, or looking.

How Does Trichophilia Make You Feel?

The signs and symptoms of trichophilia, or the way it makes you feel, depending on the type of hair that causes the arousal, along with the specific situation. This can differ from person to person. However, it can be said that generally, having a hair fetish means that you get sexual pleasure from human hair.

This could also mean that you derive pleasure from getting a haircut, or you get aroused while watching a shampoo commercial.

Regardless of whatever type of hair and situation you prefer, if you are aroused by the hair, it is generally not a problem, as long as you don’t harm anyone. According to many experts, having a hair fetish is just one of the many things some humans enjoy as part of their sexual preferences. However, psychologists are also quick to point out that if the hair has become the number one source of erotic stimulation in your relationship that helps you achieve sexual gratification, then it means that the fetish has become something more serious. (9,10)

Is Trichophilia a Fetish or a Disorder?

Your doctor may diagnose you with a paraphilic disorder if your hair fetish starts to go beyond a normal sexual preference and begins to cause distress to you and others. According to the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people with a paraphilic disorder are prone to:(11)

  • Feel personal distress about their fetish – this is separate from the distress caused by the society’s disapproval.
  • Have a strong sexual desire or behavior that causes another person psychological distress, injury, or even death.
  • Have a desire for sexual behaviors that involves an unwilling person or persons who are unable to give legal consent – this may sometimes even lead to rape or death.

Trichophilia is considered as a disorder when it starts to bring a level of dysfunction to your day-to-day life, or it starts to cause you distress. This is known as egodystonic in psychiatry, meaning that the condition is no longer in accordance with their belief system or with what they want.(12) For example, if a person starts to act on their strong urges to touch the hair of a non-consenting person even though they know they should not. When the drive to act on any fetish become so strong and starts to override a person’s better judgment, the fetish can quickly turn into a disorder.

As a result of this, trichophilia can bring considerable anguish and shame to the person, and they may even start to feel disgusted and tormented by their thoughts. When trichophilia begins to interfere with your daily obligations, it is the first indication that the fetish has turned into a disorder.

Another example will be if someone with trichophilia or any other type of paraphilic disorder starts showing up late for work or meetings because they have been spending too much time on fetish websites. At this point, the person has crossed over into having a pathological condition that is causing disruption to their life and can lead to any type of untoward consequences.

How Can You Manage Trichophilia?

If trichophilia begins to transform from being a simple fetish to a disorder, there are several things you can do to decrease your urges and manage the condition. There is no cure for trichophilia, and treatment focuses on managing the condition. However, treatment is only recommended if the condition starts to cause disruption in your life or you start to feel tormented by your urges.

If, however, you are acting on these urges inside a consensual relationship with another adult who does not have any issues with this fetish, then there is no need for any intervention or treatment.

But, if trichophilia starts to become a problem, or you have been diagnosed as having a disorder, there are various options for treatment. These include:

Medications: There are certain types of medications that can be used to reduce your libido. These include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera).(13,14)

Self-help groups: When trichophilia turns into a disorder, it can be very similar to addiction as it involves resisting the urge to act on your impulses. Trichophilia can be addressed by going to self-help groups that follow the 12-step model.(15)

Conclusion

Trichophilia is a type of sexual fetish that involves human hair. This type of a fetish is known as paraphilia, and as long as no one gets physically and emotionally hurt and it takes place between consenting adults, trichophilia can be an acceptable and enjoyable part of your sexual life.

However, if this hair fetish starts interfering with your day-to-day activities and relationships, or it starts causing harm to your partner, you should consider consulting a mental health professional. A mental health professional will have the proper tools to diagnose and treat trichophilia through medications, and they may also suggest self-help groups you can join.

References:

  1. Bandura, A., 2017. Trichophilia–Aesthetic Approach to Processes of Hair Fetishization in Contemporary Art.
  2. Rappaport, E.A., 1970. The resolution of a delusional hair fetish. Psychoanalytic review, 57(4), pp.617-631.
  3. Buxbaum, E., 1960. Hair pulling and fetishism. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 15(1), pp.243-260.
  4. Critorix.co.uk. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.critorix.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Relative-prevalence-of-different-fetishes.pdf> [Accessed 24 February 2021].
  5. Dietz, P.E. and Evans, B., 1982. Pornographic imagery and prevalence of paraphilia. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 1493.
  6. Joyal, C.C. and Carpentier, J., 2017. The prevalence of paraphilic interests and behaviors in the general population: A provincial survey. The journal of sex research, 54(2), pp.161-171.
  7. Ahlers, C.J., Schaefer, G.A., Mundt, I.A., Roll, S., Englert, H., Willich, S.N. and Beier, K.M., 2011. How unusual are the contents of paraphilias? Paraphilia‐associated sexual arousal patterns in a community‐based sample of men. The journal of sexual medicine, 8(5), pp.1362-1370.
  8. Joyal, C.C. and Carpentier, J., 2017. The prevalence of paraphilic interests and behaviors in the general population: A provincial survey. The journal of sex research, 54(2), pp.161-171.
  9. NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). 2021. Trichotillomania – NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). [online] Available at: <https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/trichotillomania/> [Accessed 24 February 2021].
  10. Psychology Today. 2021. Hair Gripped. [online] Available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/in-excess/201411/hair-gripped> [Accessed 24 February 2021].
  11. First, M., 2021. DSM-5 and Paraphilic Disorders. [online] Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. Available at: <http://jaapl.org/content/42/2/191> [Accessed 24 February 2021].
  12. Kafka, M.P. and Prentky, R.A., 1994. Preliminary observations of DSM-III—R Axis I comorbidity in men with paraphilias and paraphilia-related disorders. The Journal of clinical psychiatry.
  13. Greenberg, D.M. and Bradford, J.M., 1997. Treatment of the paraphilic disorders: A review of the role of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Sexual Abuse, 9(4), pp.349-360.
  14. Greenberg, D.M., Bradford, J.M., Curry, S. and O’Rourke, A., 1996. A comparison of treatment of paraphilias with three serotonin reuptake inhibitors: A retrospective study. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 24(4), pp.525-532.
  15. Lennon, B., 1994. An integrated treatment program for paraphiliacs, including a 12-step approach. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1(3), pp.227-241.

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