Ethological parallels

Abnormal grooming behaviours in other species include canine acral lick in dogs, feline psychogenic alopecia in cats, and feather picking in birds. Grooming in animals is often considered to be a fixed-action pattern, a complex innate behavioural sequence mediated by deep brain structures such as the basal ganglia. Inappropriate fixed-action patterns, referred to as displacement behaviours, are observed in situations characterized by heightened physiological stress or arousal. The conceptualization of trichotillomania as a displacement behaviour is supported by phenomenological similarities to animal displacement behaviours as well as similar treatment responses of both trichotillomania and animal grooming disorders to serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and opiate antagonists. (19

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