Keeping Up With The Penguins

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The Pulling – Adele Dumont

The Pulling - Adele Dumont - Keeping Up With The Penguins
Buy The Pulling here.
(affiliate link)

Adele Dumont has a secret, one that she’s been hiding in plain sight since her late teens. In her memoir, The Pulling, she generously shares it to help us understand how ritual can descend into obsession. The wonderful team at Scribe Publications were kind enough to send me a copy for review.

Dumont lives with trichotillomania, or compulsive hair pulling. What began as a strange quirk, a self-soothing mechanism to help her teenage self deal with an emotionally turbulent household, became a life-long condition that consumed most of her waking hours. In The Pulling, she explains the nature of her disorder, how it manifests and how she has built a life around her secret struggle with and against her compulsive behaviour.

The Pulling is a confronting read in many ways, not just the physical reality of Dumont’s symptoms (which is what you’d might expect for a memoir about an apparently self-injurious compulsion). The lengths that Dumont must go to keep her secret, even from those closest to her, heartbreaking, along with her feelings of isolation. To this day, she says she hasn’t met another person who pulls, and for many years she believed she was the only one in the world. In reality, the prevalence of trichotillomania is estimated around 2% of the population (more than schizophrenia), so it’s far more common than she or we might have ever known.

Most upsetting of all, for me, is learning that there is no known treatment with any demonstrable long-term success. Dumont doesn’t linger on this point, though, focusing in The Pulling on her day-to-day life and philosophical reckoning with her lived reality. She has an admirable self-awareness, and shows remarkable openness to vulnerability in sharing her secret. This memoir is a stark reminder of the secret battles fought by those around us.

Buy The Pulling on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)

2 Comments

  1. How heartbreaking that she thought she was the only one! I’ve actually known two people in my life that battle trichotillomania so I actually thought it was more common than 2%. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for this book.

    • Sheree

      March 30, 2024 at 2:47 PM

      Oh wow, this is definitely going to be an interesting read for you Hannah – would love to hear what you think of it!

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