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When grooming goes too far

Photos Logo By John Zebrowski of Photos | Slide 1 of 11

Pathological grooming

Everyone bites their nails, or picks a scab when they shouldn’t, or goes through periods when they just have to wash their hands one… last… time. As humans, we’ve evolved to view grooming as essential to our very survival. But how much is too much?

For millions of Americans, the impulse to keep clean, or, in a more modern sense, look as good as possible, becomes pathological, so that they can’t stop, and it all but takes over their lives. “People really want to stop, and they’re distressed by what they’re doing,” says Marla Deibler, the director of the Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, which treats people suffering from pathological grooming disorders. “They become socially isolated, and it becomes very hard to live with.”

© Man grooming in the bathroom (Stigur Karlsson/Getty Images)
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