Psychology of Hair Loss Explained
In 1991 a man from the Neolithic Age was found frozen in a glacier near the Austrian-Italian border. This man, who was believed to have lived around 5,300 B.C., had hair that was cut in a very neat, precise style. Evidently he considered the appearance of his hair very important.
The story of Samson and Delilah is also telling. Samson possessed supernatural strength bound within his hair. When Delilah had a servant shave him bald, his strength vanished.
Hair has fascinated humans since the beginning of time, and it is natural to feel concerned if your hair is thinning. Specifically, hair loss can trigger masculinity issues. Many worry: Will women find me unattractive? Will I look too old to get that promotion at work? Will people consider me “over the hill?” and so on. Hair loss can and often does evoke the feeling that life as you know it is over. In this respect, baldness is associated with approaching mortality.
We recommend this great article from Psychology Today titled The Psychology Behind A Good Hair Day. If you are a young man losing your hair read Dr. Harris’ blog post on the psychology of balding at a young age.
Let’s break down the different aspects of the psychology of male hair loss. How many have you personally experienced?
Denial plays a role in almost every reaction and emotion that a man feels about his hair loss. Men want to deny everything—that they are losing their hair, that they find it upsetting, and that they cannot handle it emotionally. Denial lurks behind every corner and clouds even the most straightforward discussion. By far, recognizing and coping with denial, which is a lie to oneself, is the most important and yet the most difficult part of the process of understanding the psychology of baldness. How can you find the truth if you’re starting with a lie? Denial prevents an accurate assessment of the condition of baldness and its realistic treatment options; and this can lead to poor treatment choices. Why do you think that close to a billion dollars is spent on bogus baldness cures every year?
Many men complain to us that their hair loss has caused them to become a big joke among their friends. Many say that they first realized they were balding when their “best friend” announced it in the locker room, causing other men to stare and taunt. Since the balding man is already panicked and afraid, he is in a defensive position. He’s also in a bind. If he reacts to the teasing with anything other than mute acceptance, he will be perceived as less than a man, which is exactly how he may already feel due to his thinning hair. So, the best of his seemingly bad options is to take the teasing “like a man” without comment—and to start wearing hats.
Typically, bald men experience jealousy because they desperately covet what their non-bald brothers have. This may be conscious or unconscious. Terry Bradshaw, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ famed quarterback of the seventies, while acting as commentator for Super Bowl XXIII, called John Elway of the Denver Broncos spoiled, overpaid, and overrated as a quarterback. Elway calmly responded by saying that Bradshaw was just jealous because when Terry played, the salaries were so much lower.
Nine years passed, and in 1998, John Elway and the Broncos played in Super Bowl XXXII, and emerged as victors. Terry Bradshaw, again the commentator for the event, reluctantly admitted that he was jealous of Elway’s salary . . . and of Elway’s hair.
Feelings of Isolation
Even though most men who are balding share the same feelings, each man, ironically, tends to feel completely alone. Please remember that you are not alone. Over the years, we have spoken to thousands of men—every size, shape, and color—about hair loss. They all have the same fears, desires, and needs. Unfortunately, these men also felt constrained and isolated by social pressures dictating that they should not openly display any type of feelings, much less concern for their appearance. Men often feel that they must be stoic and strong because showing their feelings is considered weak. Unfortunately, their efforts to appear strong serve only to isolate them from one another. Conversely, women have no such emotional constraints. They can publicly express their feelings and maintain their beauty by whatever means necessary.
If you are tired of pretending that your hair loss does not affect you emotionally and psychologically, contact us to discuss your own personal reactions to hair loss, or to schedule a personalized consultation.