What are BFRBs?

BFRB stands for Body Focused Repetitive Behaviors; which was an “umbrella term” developed to encompass pseudo-grooming behaviors once they move beyond normal behavior to a state of compulsive entrapment.

BFRBs basically include the pseudo-grooming behaviors of:

  • Hair Pulling
  • Skin Picking
  • Nail Biting
  • Lip Picking
  • Cuticle Picking
  • Fingernail Rubbing
  • Cheek Biting
  • Nose Picking
  • Tongue Twisting/Biting
  • And perhaps others as well…

All of these behaviors are done by humans the world over as part of regular grooming and self-care. But for some people, what starts out as a simple behavior, actually turns into an unwanted and rather terrifying behavioral compulsion with the ability to entrap sufferers for decades if there is no intervention.

BFRBs are currently categorized in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of MentalDisorders- version 5) as being in the group called Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Disorders. Think of BFRBs as “kissing cousins” of OCD, but not actually exactly OCD! The field of BFRBs is very new, only coming into public awareness in the past 3 decades or so, primarily through the work of the TLC Foundation for BFRBs.

Are BFRBs a form of SELF-HARM?

BFRBs are not intrinsically harmful when done at mild levels, but the can certainly develop into harmful  degrees of behavior when the individual has no access to assistance and helpful information, especially when living in a dysfunctional, chaotic or mixed-message environment.

There are several differences between self-mutilation such as cutting or burning, and classic BFRBs. First and foremost, BFRBs are all normal human behaviors but done at extreme levels. Many are done automatically, below conscious awareness, and are not fully recognized as a problem until the behavior level has caused unwanted and evident damage. Most individuals who struggle with BFRBs find the behaviors pacifying, distracting, or soothing;only a very few find the sensation unpleasant. The problem arises because when the human nervous system “discovers” something that “works,” it quickly builds neural pathways in support of the “discovery.” As Dan Seigel, M.D. says, “Neurons that fire together, wire together!” In effect, this quick-fire wiring creates strong linkages supporting the behavioral engagement. This response and subsequent strengthening of pathways underlies basic human pleasure, but also underlies addiction and compulsion in certain neural circumstances.

The average person who suffers usually feels levels of shame, ranging from mild to overwhelming, and sometimes even life-threatening. Before BFRB awareness began to circulate more widely, people who could not fathom why they were doing these behaviors and could find no relief, would often turn to suicide. The good news today is that although the field of BFRBs is in its infancy, there ARE various treatments, lifestyle changes, and awareness practices that once engaged, can have a huge beneficial impact in reducing the behaviors and enhancing every-day life. THAT’S what the Academy is all about!

For much more information on BFRBs please visit www.BFRB.org.

The Heart & Soul Academy is here to help you find relief and recovery.

Our classes, events and resources can help you to:

  • Integrate mindfulness techniques and stress reduction into your daily life
  • Identify negative thought patterns and triggers - and change them!
  • Reduce the impulse to pull, pick, bite, etc.
  • Increase your awareness, both inside and outside of the body
  • Handle feelings of anxiety and difficult feelings with more ease and acceptance

All it takes is the desire to change and the commitment to doing the work to transform one’s life.

At the Heart and Soul Academy, our mission is to provide those who suffer from BFRBs with the resources, expertise, and support to live a life free from pulling, picking, biting, etc. We offer online, live, interactive classes, for Adults, Teens, Children, and Parents. All our classes teach various levels of Mindfulness Awareness Training, and build upon this foundation with useful BFRB-related concepts, strategies, and practical living skills that help you build a road-map for long-term recovery.

The Academy also hosts the Annual BFRB Retreat, a profound, 3-day transformative event bringing together treatment practitioners and sufferers from all over the world. For more information about attending the Retreat click here.