Our strength is in our hair

This war is bigger than us; and it will be very difficult to adequately address emotional needs in the near future.

By Anat Schneider |
Shutterstock

Recently, a young woman approached me for personal therapy, and told me that she has been suffering from hair loss for several months.

Her hair falls out everywhere, on the pillow, on her sweater. Even when she walks she sees hair falling from her head.

The worst, she says, is while shampooing: “I’m afraid I won’t have any hair left on my head when I get out of the shower.”

For me, everything that is said in therapy is important. But when it comes to the body (as in the case of hair loss), it has a much greater importance than words, because the body actually tells the story of the true emotion that is taking place in the person. In other words, the body does not lie.

Each organ in the body has its own emotional story, and it is fascinating to learn and get to know it. If we learn to listen to the body, we can help ourselves by taking a very important part in our healing process. The better we know ourselves and our emotional state, the more we will actually know what needs to be worked on, and what needs to be changed. And so the healing process will be more significant.

The first thing I recognized in the girl’s story was the shock and trauma she had gone through in recent times. She and her boyfriend were drafted on the first day of the war, and for two months they hardly saw each other. In these 2 months she was mostly in the Gaza border area with air raid sirens in the background all the time, both day and night; and she had only a few seconds to take shelter in a protected area every time the sirens sounded. Because of this, she was afraid to fall asleep lest she not hear the sirens and not reach the bomb shelter in time.

In addition, she stated that she suffered from the smell of the corpses that was in the air all the time. To remind you, at the beginning of the war, there were hundreds of bodies scattered throughout the area; and it took a lot of time to collect them all and bring them to burial.

Young Israeli soldiers were subjected to gruesome scenes of death and destruction, even before entering the battlefields of Gaza. Photo by Flash90

The more she continued to talk and tell her story, the more I realized that the girl had experienced trauma; and to that were added difficult physical conditions such as lack of sleep, bad eating habits, and constant fear. The floor had dropped from under her feet, and the stability of her life was shaken. Even the innate sense of rootedness was increasingly undermined as the stories of horrors spread everywhere. And these kept on weakening her, every day a little more.

Hair is connected to our emotional system. The role of hair is to protect the head, it warms the skin and protects from the sun’s rays. Hair often characterizes our style and our personality.

And like the biblical hero Samson, our strength is in our hair.

Remember what happened to Samson as soon as Delilah cut his hair? In that act, Delilah also diluted Samson’s power. It is not for nothing that her name is Delilah.

In Hebrew “Delilah” means diluted.

She managed to understand the source of his power and so she put an end to his abilities. How important it is to read that Samson’s emotional state, when he handed her his secret, was desperate. He was tired of living, and he was ready to leave his life in her hands.

“And it happened that she tormented him with her words, daily–and coerced him; And his soul was cut short, to die.” (Judges 16)

Indeed the moment she cut his hair he became weak, defenseless, and cut off from his roots. It is also important to read that while he was a prisoner of the Philistines, it is noted that his hair began to grow. And this is to show us that when he asked God for strength to overthrow his captors, he had hair on his head again. In other words the ability to also grow strength.

“And he was set to grinding grain, in prison. And his hair began to grow, after it had been shaved.”

So, emotionally, hair loss represents a state of unprotected exposure. A root that is severed from the follicle teaches about the feeling of losing inner strength. Just like my patient who was cut off from her natural environment, from home. She was exposed to shocking events that caused the loss of inner strength, caused weakness, and caused a state of lack of protection that resulted in hair loss. Once we diagnosed it together, it was actually possible to understand the emotional path she would have to take towards healing.

At the same time, along with taking dietary supplements to strengthen the roots and hair growth, there is also a need for new and beneficial inner dialogue and listening with herself. Recently, her internal conversation has been difficult, and it is true that the external conditions led to this and that it is not easy to get out of the rut. But in order to stop the deterioration, a new discourse is needed in which she tells herself that she is protected, and that she is not alone, that she has roots, a family, a home, a country. The more she believes in this story over the previous one, the better her emotional state will be and the more her hair loss will stop.

I have to admit from my personal experience as well as from the stories of my patients, that this war is bigger than us; and it will be very difficult to adequately address emotional needs in the near future. But this is the way.

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