Olivia Munn Opens Up About OCD & Hypnosis

Photo: David Fisher/REX USA.

After killing it on The Newsroom, Olivia Munn is now gracing the November cover of Self magazine. Her interview covers everything from her early career on Attack of the Show! to how she learned to ride horses. And, she opens up about her struggle with a condition that affects about 1-3% of the U.S. population: compulsive hair-pulling.

Munn says she began plucking out her eyelashes at age 26. The compulsive hair-pulling condition, called trichotillomania, is a kind of impulse-control disorder often associated with anxiety. For some, the disorder is pretty manageable, but for others it can be so severe that they’ll end up with bald spots.

For Munn, hair-pulling was related to anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although trichotillomania and OCD are clinically different disorders, they often share symptoms and can occur together. “OCD comes from a place of needing to feel safe,” she told Self. “I had it growing up, having had a little bit of a tumultuous upbringing, moving around a lot with a mixed family with five kids.” And, she says that being on TV brought some of that anxiety back: “I just didn’t want to let anybody down.”

But, Munn’s answer came in the form of hypnotherapy. Although it sounds a little kooky and is still a somewhat controversial option, using hypnosis to assist therapy (not necessarily as therapy) is becoming more widely accepted. It’s all about getting patients to feel comfortable enough to share what they’re actually dealing with — especially the things they might try really hard not to think about most of the time. Some research suggests about a quarter of us can’t be hypnotized. But, for those who can be, the relaxed, hypnotic state can help them let their guard down enough to tackle otherwise off-limits issues. And, hypnosis has been shown to be effective in a variety of processes, including quitting smoking, reducing anxiety (including dental anxiety), and managing pain.

So, despite the usually-silly media portrayal of hypnosis, there is actually some scientific foundation for its use in therapy. After all, we’d look to Munn for skincare advice, so maybe those of us who are curious should give hypnosis an actual chance.