The approach I am using to self-treat the condition called dermatillomania is necessarily multi-dimensional. I have done research on the treatments available and I have seen that one type of therapy alone cannot be a cure, but can be a huge step forward towards treatment and cessation of this disorder. I am not making any kind of claim that I know better or know more, but what I know is me, and I am the reason, the cause, the source and the solution to myself. What I intend to do is look at the current existent research, and to ‘fill in the gaps’ in order to tailor the treatment to suit me the best way possible, and to document this in order that others may do the same for themselves.
Psychiatrists have done a lot of research and experimentation on the disorder which has some proven and very beneficial results. Take for example the following brief description of a treatment suggestion below:
Four Steps for Conquering Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, author of Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior, offers the following four steps for dealing with OCD:
- RELABEL – Recognize that the intrusive obsessive thoughts and urges are the result of OCD. For example, train yourself to say, “I don’t think or feel that my hands are dirty. I’m having an obsession that my hands are dirty.” Or, “I don’t feel that I have the need to wash my hands. I’m having a compulsive urge to perform the compulsion of washing my hands.”
- REATTRIBUTE – Realize that the intensity and intrusiveness of the thought or urge is caused by OCD; it is probably related to a biochemical imbalance in the brain. Tell yourself, “It’s not me—it’s my OCD,” to remind you that OCD thoughts and urges are not meaningful, but are false messages from the brain.
- REFOCUS – Work around the OCD thoughts by focusing your attention on something else, at least for a few minutes. Do another behavior. Say to yourself, “I’m experiencing a symptom of OCD. I need to do another behavior.”
- REVALUE – Do not take the OCD thought at face value. It is not significant in itself. Tell yourself, “That’s just my stupid obsession. It has no meaning. That’s just my brain. There’s no need to pay attention to it.” Remember: You can’t make the thought go away, but neither do you need to pay attention to it. You can learn to go on to the next behavior.
Source: Westwood Institute for Anxiety Disorder.
To see the entire article, click Here.
Although it’s true that the thoughts associated to dermatillomania are not ‘real’ per se, and are not ‘true’ in reality; they have been made ‘real’ and ‘true’ to us in our own minds, to such an extent that we would react emotionally, energetically and physically. I don’t want to give these thoughts validity or to justify them in anyway, but I do think they merit some investigation because although they are related to the disorder and ‘caused by the disorder’, it is important to note that, the disorder is not separate from self. I caused or contributed to this disorder within and as me. I repeated a pattern until it became who I am. I abdicated myself repeatedly to a feeling until it became like an addiction, until I became dependent upon it.
Note that the thoughts are not popping up out of nowhere, they are coming from me, they are relevant to me, and they are the result of my internal workings. I am not saying this in a victimizing way, this is not about self-victimization at all. This is about taking responsibility for the disorder because it is only in taking responsibility for self that self can change. This is why it is called taking self-responsibility. Taking self-responsibility is like saying “yes, I did this, and I can also un-do this.” This is how Self stands as the solution to self. I can find out where the thoughts come from through self-investigation, I can trace them back to their source, I can forgive them and I CAN delete them from within and as me through a self-commitment to do so within self-understanding and self-forgiveness; understanding exactly WHY I am the way I am so that I can forgive, let go and move on. In this way, I become the expert of myself, and no one else can be or do that for me, and I do so within and as self-love and self-acceptance
It is important to also remember that the disorder was caused within ignorance, and within this we are, in a way, innocent. There is a lot of guilt and shame associated with dermatillomania, because it’s weird and abnormal and demonstrates a lack of control and an indulgence (among many other reasons). When people see this they may then project their own self-judgment for their own lack of self-control and indulgence on to the derma sufferer, simply because theirs is hidden and ours is advertised. This is why it’s important never to take judgment seriously, because it’s never about you, it’s about the other person.
When I started picking my skin, I didn’t understand what I was doing or why I was doing it. All I knew is that it made me feel better, but I didn’t even know why I was feeling ‘wrong’ in the first place, or why picking made it feel better. I did it because I simply didn’t have the tools to cope or understand or to take self-responsibility in the moment, so I defaulted to my ‘programming’. In doing this, I intensified, solidified and crystallized this programming into my very physical body until it reached the stage of consequence that I am at today. If I had had the tools at the time, I could have prevented the whole thing. But I didn’t, so here I am in this current position, like many others. So in looking to the principle of forgiveness, I forgive myself, for I knew not what I was doing. If we don’t forgive we can’t move on change.
But forgiveness alone is ineffective, hence the mention at the beginning of this blog of the multi-dimensionality of self-treatment, which I am going to employ for myself. Forgiveness is a huge key because it assists and supports in the investigation process, it opens up thoughts and points in order to find their source. It creates a self-closeness including self-love and self-acceptance which are vital to self-healing.
Within my next blog, I will investigate the thoughts as reactions I had when trying to use the tip from my last blog:
“Look into self when you start feeling like you’re going to pick. Try to define in words what it is you see and what it is you are feeling.
Do self-forgiveness on that which you have clarified for yourself as your internal experience, in order to clear the mind for practical use.
Make a step-by-step plan for what you are going to do INSTEAD of picking.
Keep focused and the details of the plan and get specific, get VERY specific if you have to. You know how specific and detailed you get when picking? Channel that into plan-making instead.
LIVE the plan.”
So to recap for this blog:
I took an example of a treatment suggestion from Psychiatrist Jeffrey Schwartz, and I am adding to it a precursor, which is to, before dismissing the derma related thoughts within and through his suggestions, is to first investigate and understand the thoughts, find their source, forgive them, and then use his techniques. In this, we are taking full self-responsibility for the disorder, and standing as ourselves as the solution.
In my next blog I will demonstrate how to investigate, understand and find the source of thoughts, forgive them, and re-script a new way of being/thinking/doing while incorporating Mr. Schwartz’s suggestions.