Elimination of Thumb-Sucking as a Treatment for Severe Trichotillomania


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38 Scopus citations


A 5-year-old girl presented with a 3-year history of severe trichotillomania and alopecia. The trichotillomania was observed to covary, or occur only in the presence of thumb-sucking. Thus, the elimination of thumb-sucking was targeted as a treatment for trichotillomania. The investigation evaluated the relative effectiveness of a standard aversive taste treatment, a response-dependent alarm and a response-disrupting thumb-post. Results indicated that only the thumb-post completely eliminated thumb-sucking and the covarying trichotillomania. These results suggest that when trichotillomania is a benign habit disorder, the treatment of a covarying habit such as thumb-sucking can be an effective treatment alternative and that resilient thumb-sucking can be effectively managed with an easily implemented thumb-post that requires little supervision and provides long-term success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)830-834
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1993


  • covariation
  • habit disorder
  • thumb-sucking
  • trichotillomani

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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