Embracing baldness

There are many myths regarding the possible causes of baldness and its relationship with one's virility, intelligence, ethnicity, job, social class, wealth etc. Most of them can be dismissed by the existence of many counterexamples or by a lack of sufficient scientific research. However there is some research strongly linking an individual's verbal recall ability from week to week to their androgen level. Higher androgen levels conferred greater recall.

In the ancient world, if a bald person;

- His mental development was probably not stunted by malnutrition during his crucial formative years. and - He was more likely to be wealthy, and thus have access to a formal education.

* "Intellectual activity or psychological problems can cause baldness."

This myth probably was inspired by the fact that the human brain is located inside the skull, very close and just below where hair grows, and so it was thought that the use and abuse as well as mental diseases could have negative effect on hair growth and number. It may also be due to the fact that cholesterol is involved in the process of neurogenesis and also the base material from which the body ultimately manufactures DHT.

This is sometimes used as a stereotype in films, where the more intellectual or rather frustrated characters are most usually portrayed as bald and generally unattractive, as opposed to the main characters which are usually portrayed as attractive, fit, mentally stable and generally with no apparent hair problems.

This same myth normally extends to considering people having intellectual jobs more prone to baldness problems compared to manual laborers, sometimes further extending the myth to male college or university students when compared to workers of the same age. The myth is suspect because counterexamples can be found in any case.

* "Baldness can be caused by emotional stress, sexual frustration etc."

While emotional stress can have a part in causing baldness, again it is easy to find counterexamples like non-frustrated and non-stressed people with hair loss problems as well as stressed and/or frustrated people with no hair loss problem at all.
This myth also suggests that a vicious circle between hair loss and emotional stress/sexual frustration can take place, although only one part of it can be scientifically explained (hair loss causing low esteem and then frustration, but not vice versa).

* "Bald men are more "virile" or sexually active than others."

This myth probably stems from the fact that some forms of baldness in some predisposed individuals are caused by androgens, and removal of androgens (by castration) prevents baldness or stops it from progressing further. Yet counterexamples can be found, like men with perfect hairlines and similar levels of androgens or men with sensitivity to androgens causing hair loss but which are not very sexually active.

* "Shaving hair makes it grow back stronger"

Proposed as a popular remedy against baldness, it's very probably just an illusion similar to the one perceived after shaving one's beard or mustache. Shaving one's head doesn't increase the number of healthy hair present on the scalp, and, when the remaining hair has grown a few millimeters, no enhancement in thickness or overall quality can be observed.

A very similar stereotype exists even between the various European ethnic groups, when comparing people of Southern European descent with those of Northern European, Germanic or Slavic origins, with the stereotype summarily describing the "Southern Europeans" as darker-skinned, with more body hair, with the women more prone to cellulite problems and the men more prone to baldness, a stereotype probably developed under times of war or diplomatic tensions between European countries.

* "Baldness is inherited from the mother's side of the family"

One of the identified genes involved in male pattern baldness is located on the X chromosome, which is inherited only from the maternal side in the case of men, but this one gene does not explain all the cases of male pattern baldness. Baldness in a child cannot be predicted only from the mother's lineage. There are probably other unidentified autosomal genes that are also involved. In other words, genetics does play a role in male pattern baldness, but the genes can come from either parent, not just the mother.

Table of Contents:
Psychological implications
Preventing and reversing hair loss
Concealing hair loss
Embracing baldness