The Pulling

Adele Dumont

The Pulling
Scribe Publications
30 January 2024

The Pulling

Adele Dumont

When I’ve been overtaken, I have stood and watched the water in my porridge simmer away into the air, and then the oats turn black and crackle with dryness, and my ears fill with the smoke alarm’s shriek.

When Adele Dumont is diagnosed with trichotillomania — compulsive hair-pulling — it makes sense of much of her life to date. The seemingly harmless quirk of her late teens, which rapidly developed into almost uncontrollable urges and then into trance-like episodes, is a hallmark of the disease, as is the secrecy with which she guarded her condition from her family, friends, and the world at large.

The diagnosis also opens up a rich line of inquiry. Where might the origins of this condition be found? How can we distinguish between a nervous habit and a compulsion? And how do we balance the relief of being ‘seen’ by others with our experience of shame?

Reminiscent of the writing of Leslie Jamison and Fiona Wright, The Pulling is a fascinating exploration of the inner workings of a mind. In perfectly judged prose, both probing and affecting, Dumont illuminates how easily ritual can slide into obsession, and how close beneath the surface horror and darkness can lie.

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