Anxiety Sensitivity in Adults with Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors
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Body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as hair pulling, skin picking, and nail biting affect almost 4% of the general population (Rasmussen & Eisen, 1992), but the factors that predispose individuals to these behaviors are poorly understood. BFRBs are associated with maladaptive emotional regulation (Diefenbach, Tolin, Meunier, & Worhunsky, 2008; Roberts, O’Connor, & Bélanger, 2013), whereby symptoms serve to temporarily attenuate aversive affective experiences. One particular mechanism through which emotion dysregulation may manifest in persons with BFRBs is anxiety sensitivity, which is defined as the fear of one’s own experiences (Reiss and McNally, 1985; Teng, Woods, Twohig, & Marcks, 2002). The current study aimed to determine whether anxiety sensitivity is elevated among adults with BFRBs compared to adults without BFRBs, and whether anxiety sensitivity severity is associated with BFRB symptom severity. Furthermore, anxiety sensitivity levels between different forms of BFRBs will be explored. Participants were recruited via BFRB patient advocacy websites and mailing lists (e.g. the Trichotillomania Learning Center; www.tlc.org) and completed online self- report surveys. Results indicated that clinical BFRBs had higher AS than the general population and that there were no significant differences in AS between persons with ExD and TTM. Future research should look into the underlying mechanisms of AS in BFRBs and how to treat it.
Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors
Mathew, Abel Steven (2016). Anxiety Sensitivity in Adults with Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from