A lot of us can't turn away from Dr. Sandra Lee's online videos or her TV show, Dr. Pimple Popper — because watching her obliterate acne and cysts is so disgustingly satisfying. But her YouTube videos and the TLC reality series could actually prove beneficial for viewers struggling with body-focused repetitive behaviors.
Known as BFRB, body-focused repetitive behaviors include "any repetitive self-grooming behavior that involves biting, pulling, picking, or scraping one's own hair, skin, or nails that results in damage to the body," according to The TLC Foundation. These behaviors are a way of self-soothing, per Insider, but they can cause physical damage and significant distress.
Psychologist Suzanne Mouton-Odum, a BFRB specialist and a clinical assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, told Insider there are hundreds of possible interventions for these behaviors. And while there's no scientific research to show pimple-popping videos are an effective BFRB intervention, there is anecdotal evidence.
Take Syd, for instance. She's a 23-year-old contending with trichotillomania, a disorder characterized by repetitive hair pulling, but she told Insider pimple-popping videos have helped with those urges.
"I was weirdly curious as a kid, and I thought, 'I wonder how big pimples can get, and how much stuff can come out?' So I started looking stuff up, and that's how I found popping videos," she said. "It is so satisfying to watch it the stuff come out. It's a very similar feeling to when I pop my own pimples or pull a hair out."
Aleah, a 23-year-old who struggles with skin-picking, also finds the videos useful. "It feels like relief, in a way," she told Insider. "I get a feeling of relief and almost euphoria for a moment when I pop a particularly nasty or painful pimple on myself, and watching good popping videos sometimes gives me the same feeling. Sometimes it's almost like a rush."
Of course, there's no one-size-fits-all treatment for BFRB, and some people with these behaviors say pimple-popping videos are actually triggering for them. But for others, it seems like Dr. Pimple Popper is more than just a satisfying TV show to watch!