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Obsessive Picking


Compulsive skin picking (CSP) is an obsessive-compulsive disorder in which a person constantly and sometimes mindlessly picks at their skin. CSP sufferers know they are doing something painful and self-defeating, but they continue to do it.

SkinPick.com writes:

One very tragic and equally confusing aspect of compulsive skin picking is that the subject finds comfort, pleasure, or emotional release in the very act of causing him- or herself pain. While knowing that the behavior is one that really needs to be stopped or avoided, the subject continues the behavior nevertheless.

It is not known what causes a person to pick at their skin, but experts say it is usually a symptom of some kind of current or past psychological trauma.

The site writes:

Obsessive-compulsive behaviors may be a way of shielding oneself against the pain being inflicted by an outside party. The reason for the compulsive picking may be to control pain coming from outside.

In this light, the subject places him- or herself in control of the pain. It may be the only avenue of control the subject feels is available. By personally causing the pain itself, the subject takes away or diminishes the extent of the pain that can be inflicted by an outside party.

Oddly, some people are not even aware they are doing it. Often times, another person will point out the picking, which the CPS sufferer is doing mindlessly while focused on another activity.

Skin picking is sort of a hidden problem. Doctors don't ask about it, and patients don't tell. It needs to be out in the open so people can get the help they need.

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