For many people with body-focused repetitive behaviours, the predominant effects are cosmetic, and the consequences emotional and social.

When Deborah Huffman went for her annual physical a few years ago, she saw a new doctor who handed her a paper gown, instructing her to leave it open in the back. The doctor returned a few minutes later to find Huffman in the gown, sobbing.

What was wrong?

"I pick at my skin," Huffman, who is now 65, remembers saying. The doctor peered at Huffman's back, which was dappled with scabs and open lesions.


It was the first time that Huffman,