Documentary Review - "Scars of Shame"

Tasneem Abrahams
Jun 24th, 2016

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Angela Hartlin is a powerhouse in the world of advocacy for skin picking disorder and other BFRBs. Angela has a Skin Picking Support blog and is actively involved in both the Canadian BFRB Support Network and the TLC Foundation for BFRBs. She was one of the first people to go public with her disorder through blogging and eventually through her book, "Forever Marked". As a result, when you research dermatillomania or compulsive skin picking, you are bound to come across Angela's name on the world wide web. I don't normally write the skinpick blog posts from my personal perspective, but I feel like I have a personal connection to this particular post.

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We have mentioned Angela in a number of posts over the last couple of years so when I was afforded the opportunity to review her documentary "Scars of Shame", I must admit I felt a little bit star struck. Why you ask? Over the years I have come across many clients with skin picking disorder, and while I am confident in my clinical skills I am always aware that as someone who has never had to endure this problem personally, I can never claim to understand or know what my clients are going through. Angela Hartlin provides that window into the hearts, minds and souls of so many silent sufferers. As she says in her movie,

I always had this secret inside me...and that isolated me..."

So what did I think of the documentary?

There are so many words I can use to describe Scars of Shame - honest, haunting, dark, uplifting, hopeful, encouraging, inspiring, sad, raw - it was all of those things and more! This is not a movie you watch for entertainment, it is a movie you watch because it is meanginful. Beauttifully directed, eloquently narrated, even the music selected perfectly lifted and lulled the mood as Angela takes you on this incredibly personal journey of discovery and acceptance. Without giving away too much about the documentary I leave you with the trailer and two quotes from the documentary that stood out for me the most, when she says:

I had to start living...


It doesn't ruin me...because I am surrounded by the most supportive people..."

Not just for skin pickers

This documentary is not only for people who pick skin. This documentary is for anyone who is touched by any form of body focused repetitive behavior. Whether you yourself are the peson inflicted with this condition, or even if you care about someone who is, this is for you. As someone who doesn't pick, Angela and all the other people you will see featured in the video show so much courage in the raw honesty they display by sharing their experiences. The unapologetic footage of Angela engaged in actual picking, while it may trigger behaviors for some, gives such a true and neccessary glimpse into the torment skin pickers face on a daily basis. I commend Angela for her courage and spirit and for allowing me the opportunity to review the documentary.

You can find out more about the book and other publications via Angela's blog and the documentary is available for purchase via Amazon, Ebay, and the TLC Foundation for BFRBs store.

Tasneem Abrahams

Tasneem is an Occupational Therapist, and a graduate of the TLC foundation for BFRBs professional training institute. Her experience in mental health includes working at Lentegeur Psychiatric hospital forensic unit (South Africa), Kingston Community Adult Learning Disability team (UK), Clinical Specialist for the Oasis Project Spelthorne Community Mental Health team (UK). Tasneem is a member of both the editorial team and the clinical staff on Skinpick, providing online therapy for people who suffer from excoriation (skin picking) disorder.

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