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(NPR)   Is nail biting a bad habit, or is it a mental disorder?   (npr.org) divider line 156
    More: Interesting, Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, hair pulling, DSM, American Psychiatric Association, habits  
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9612 clicks; posted to Main » on 01 Oct 2012 at 11:29 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-10-01 01:03:02 PM

GBB: ok, what about biting the skin around the nail?? What's up with that???


For me, I get wicked hangnails for some reason and teeth are the handiest way to deal with it. The hangnails are likely related to other mild skin conditions / irritations I get, which are likely related to some sort semi-latent anxiety disorder(s).

And yes to the nail-biting.
 
2012-10-01 01:03:19 PM
It's lo-cal, and cheap entertainment. Way cheaper than manicures. Piss off.

Nose picking pretty much rocks too.
 
2012-10-01 01:04:59 PM
Nail biting is normal behavior in Primates. Most mammals use their incisors to groom, in fact.

Stop pathologizing my mammalian ancestry!
 
2012-10-01 01:09:34 PM
24.media.tumblr.com
 
2012-10-01 01:11:15 PM
I use my nails on my left hand to pry things open, pick up tiny screws, etc (cell phone and other small gadgets tech). I used to get my right hand manicured. Now I just bite 'em and sand 'em down with the emery board. She can't tell the difference.
 
2012-10-01 01:12:05 PM

HairBolus: When I was maybe 6 my mother bought some advertised fluid to paint on my nails to stop nail biting (I don't think I was a bad case but more a victim of advertising).

Anyway it had hot pepper essence in it which was supposed to keep me from sticking my fingers in my mouth. Instead it made me like spicy food.


Ha, the pepper crap. I had a friend down the street when I was growing up who would not stop sucking her thumb... her parents tried the whole spectrum of crap to put on her thumb so she'd stop, nothing worked.

They finally had an orthodontist apply this contraption on the roof of her mouth that had these spikes, like 7-8 of them, downwards from a bar attached right to the top. It was supposed to not be long enough to do damage to her tongue while painful enough to stick her thumb in there.

We were playing one afternoon on her trampoline, she fell face first, the spikes went right into her tongue and a couple of them bent from the pressure from her jaw and so it was stuck in there. I remember hearing my parents a couple days later discussing it saying the mom was pissed because the emergency doctor told her she was a stupid git for putting that contraption in her 6 year old daughter's mouth because of something as silly as thumb sucking.
 
2012-10-01 01:25:25 PM
I quit biting my nails when a hand started growing in my stomach...
 
2012-10-01 01:27:54 PM

CapeFearCadaver: HairBolus: When I was maybe 6 my mother bought some advertised fluid to paint on my nails to stop nail biting (I don't think I was a bad case but more a victim of advertising).

Anyway it had hot pepper essence in it which was supposed to keep me from sticking my fingers in my mouth. Instead it made me like spicy food.

Ha, the pepper crap. I had a friend down the street when I was growing up who would not stop sucking her thumb... her parents tried the whole spectrum of crap to put on her thumb so she'd stop, nothing worked.

They finally had an orthodontist apply this contraption on the roof of her mouth that had these spikes, like 7-8 of them, downwards from a bar attached right to the top. It was supposed to not be long enough to do damage to her tongue while painful enough to stick her thumb in there.

We were playing one afternoon on her trampoline, she fell face first, the spikes went right into her tongue and a couple of them bent from the pressure from her jaw and so it was stuck in there. I remember hearing my parents a couple days later discussing it saying the mom was pissed because the emergency doctor told her she was a stupid git for putting that contraption in her 6 year old daughter's mouth because of something as silly as thumb sucking.


Holy crap. Was this orthodontist a former Nazi or something?
 
2012-10-01 01:33:19 PM

JackieRabbit: When I read this BS, I almost laughed. Nail biting is not a form of OCD; it's a mindless habit and nothing more. I used to bite my nails. I did it for decades. I wanted to stop, so I asked a gay friend, who used to bite his nails (and other things, too!) how he had beaten the habit. He said to simple start getting manicures and I'd stop on either the first or second one. He was correct. It was that simple.


Where's the experimental evidence for your conclusion? Do you have a peer-reviewed journal article on your opinion? Just wondering how much research drew you to this conclusion.
 
2012-10-01 01:38:44 PM
Used to bite my nails, rarely, if ever do now unless i break one and don't have clippers near.
I do pull out my facial hair, the worst part is I don't even know I am doing it. I'll just look down at my desk or on my shirt and see whiskers there and have no recollection of pulling them out.
 
2012-10-01 01:40:15 PM

chevydeuce: I bit my nails for years, starting as a kid up til about 7 or 8 years ago...and I would chew until they bled...chewed the skin and cuticles too...hated how my hands looked, so I made a New Years resolution to stop and I did....for about 5 years, then started up again...dammit!

/I don't think it's an OCD thing, but yeah, I do have some "issues" that have never been fully resolved, so maybe there's something to it?


Everyone has some sort of 'issue' that the medical professionals would like you to get help with. All for their bottom line.

/nail biter during stressed times
//some truth to the manicure theory, never bite the nails when they are long
 
2012-10-01 01:44:02 PM

karmaceutical: We were playing one afternoon on her trampoline, she fell face first, the spikes went right into her tongue and a couple of them bent from the pressure from her jaw and so it was stuck in there. I remember hearing my parents a couple days later discussing it saying the mom was pissed because the emergency doctor told her she was a stupid git for putting that contraption in her 6 year old daughter's mouth because of something as silly as thumb sucking.

Holy crap. Was this orthodontist a former Nazi or something?


He was my orthodontist, too... come to think of it he was a pasty ginger, so soulless more likely.
 
2012-10-01 01:45:44 PM

DaCaptain19: JackieRabbit: When I read this BS, I almost laughed. Nail biting is not a form of OCD; it's a mindless habit and nothing more. I used to bite my nails. I did it for decades. I wanted to stop, so I asked a gay friend, who used to bite his nails (and other things, too!) how he had beaten the habit. He said to simple start getting manicures and I'd stop on either the first or second one. He was correct. It was that simple.

Where's the experimental evidence for your conclusion? Do you have a peer-reviewed journal article on your opinion? Just wondering how much research drew you to this conclusion.


No and neither does the APA. They have absolutely no basis for lumping nail-biting in with OCD. But then the APA's real purpose is to make everyone a mental/psychiatric patient. They don't get much respect from other medial colleges and association. They do ridiculous things like this every time they update the DSM.
 
2012-10-01 01:47:00 PM
I'm a nail biter for as long as I can remember. I consider it a job well done when I taste blood. It does suck at times not being able to pick up coins off a well waxed floor. As pointed out by a few of you here I am a head case. but functional I have a job I like and consider a career but the dark clouds of depression are always on the horizon and there are times when I can feel their cold winds blowing in.
 
2012-10-01 01:47:44 PM

super_grass: It IS a mental disorder, and wil WILL make a pill for it.

/Ask your doctor if Nailbitinol is right for you.


Came here to say "so, big pharma came out with a pill that stops nailbiting?"

/more probably bought out a small pharma that invented it
//side effects include lack of empathy, apathy and so on....
///feel free to add side effects
 
2012-10-01 01:51:46 PM
I've bit my nails most of my life, but after starting back up on my anti-depressant the last time, I pretty much quit doing it. I've been off the anti-depressant for a while now since things have been more stable, but the nail biting really hasn't started back up. Of course, the worst of it used to happen while doing something passive like watching tv or a movie and I hardly do that anymore, so maybe that's it.

I will make sure I take an extra straw into a movie to chew on, though. I guess I just don't sit still well.
 
2012-10-01 01:51:48 PM
Nail Biting is a Learned Behaviour.
 
2012-10-01 01:59:23 PM

letrole: Nail Biting is a Learned Behaviour.


I learned it by watching you, dad! Okay? It was you!
 
2012-10-01 02:01:32 PM

JackieRabbit: spacelord321: JackieRabbit: When I read this BS, I almost laughed. Nail biting is not a form of OCD; it's a mindless habit and nothing more. I used to bite my nails. I did it for decades. I wanted to stop, so I asked a gay friend, who used to bite his nails (and other things, too!) how he had beaten the habit. He said to simple start getting manicures and I'd stop on either the first or second one. He was correct. It was that simple.

Yeah...but now you're gay.

/I keed!
//good friend of mine is a nailbiter
///definately OCD related in her case

It's only gay if you get the manicure//manscaping/blow job package special from Sven, Lance or Steve. Actually, I don't get a manicure very often, since I don't want to be bothered. Once upon a time, most barber shops had a manicurist, but not any more.


Man, I've been going to the wrong beauty parlors.
 
2012-10-01 02:01:42 PM
If you feel the need to announce, ON FARK, that you do not have a mental disorder, then you probably have a mental disorder.

/just sayin'
//something about a river in Egypt, protesting too much
///the first step is to admit you have a problem
 
2012-10-01 02:02:50 PM
This is only the first step towards curing those infernal pillow-biters.
 
2012-10-01 02:03:02 PM
I bit my nails from the time I was a toddler until I was in my mid-30s. Finally kicked the habit a couple of years ago - interestingly enough, when I started getting in shape and dropped about 50 pounds.

Now I have a different compulsion - staring at my nails all the time to admire how tidy they are.
 
2012-10-01 02:03:29 PM

JackieRabbit: Pulling of the eyelashes (trichotillomania) is a compulsive behavior, but it does not rise to the standard of OCD, since an OCD victim would also have another element such as there has to be an exact number of lashes or that the lashes have to be plucked at a certain time of day, without fail.


Thank you for not only disproving me with more knowledge of the various terms, but also reassuring me that there are people out there far more farked up than me. :)
 
2012-10-01 02:07:25 PM

Heamer: I bite my nails precisely and trimly, in private, about once every 2-3 weeks because I absolutely cannot stand the feeling of nail clippers on my fingernails. I've been like that ever since I was about 12 or so, and very rarely does anyone ever comment on the appearance of my fingernails. I've got it down to a science.


Try investing in a pair of manicure scissors.
 
2012-10-01 02:12:00 PM

HAMMERTOE: This is only the first step towards curing those infernal pillow-biters.


If you would stop banging me so hard, I wouldn't be biting the pillow. Now would I?
 
2012-10-01 02:12:52 PM

JackieRabbit: No and neither does the APA. They have absolutely no basis for lumping nail-biting in with OCD. But then the APA's real purpose is to make everyone a mental/psychiatric patient. They don't get much respect from other medial colleges and association. They do ridiculous things like this every time they update the DSM.


Several people right here have said that they're neurotic, depressed, or kind of OCD and they bite their nails compulsively. Few of us are perfectly mentally healthy. Most of us keep from sliding off into the area of "totally nuts", but most of us have some issues. Why do you need to be so defensive? Are your nails chewed down to the bone? Found yourself in the DSM a few too many times? If it's not about you, then it's not about you. Let it go.

Or maybe you just don't know the difference between biting your fingernails once in a while, and chewing on the ends of your fingers until they bleed.
 
2012-10-01 02:28:19 PM
I'm not depressed or OCD...so I will go with neurotic, a tad anxious and super fidgety.
 
2012-10-01 02:53:41 PM

Nogale: Try investing in a pair of manicure scissors.


I've tried. Anything that involves manipulating a small, metal tool to manicure my fingernails is tactilely unsettling to me. Ironically, I have absolutely no issue with clipping my toenails.
 
2012-10-01 03:08:08 PM

busy chillin': I'm not depressed or OCD...so I will go with neurotic, a tad anxious and super fidgety.


Super fidgety. I can't even sit still long enough to watch movies or things like that. I'm not as self-destructive as I used to be, but I have to--HAVE TO--exercise. The neurotic and anxious is a given. Thank you, genetics.
 
2012-10-01 03:13:31 PM

Kellner21: One of the neatest things I got out of it was the feeling of my nails being longer than my fingertips. And being able to actually use my fingernails. Scratching is cool!!


Oddly enough, that's one of the main reasons I bite my nails - to the quick, frequently. The sensation of my nails scratching or scraping on certain surfaces drives me NUTS. Bedsheets are the worst. Just rolling over in bed at night and accidentally scratching a nail on the bedsheet is enough to send me into a full-body myoclonic shudder.
 
2012-10-01 03:29:02 PM
I stopped biting my nails when I went away to university. A few years ago the Mrs. invited my mother over for Thanksgiving. I bit 4 fingernails down to the quick that day. She's not coming back this Thanksgiving.
 
2012-10-01 03:30:00 PM

letrole: Nail Biting is a Learned Behaviour.


My 8 year old step-son has a very, very bad nail chewing habit. He cannot go more than a few seconds without chewing his nails/fingers. It is gross. playing soccer? He is out there with his hand in his mouth the whole time. His dad did the same thing, so maybe there really is truth to this.

Tried a nasty nail paint thing, he didn't care. Already had one finger infection because of it. Not sure what to do. Was thinking about making him wear boxing gloves like Strongbad whenever he is at home.
 
2012-10-01 03:30:42 PM

Heamer: Nogale: Try investing in a pair of manicure scissors.

I've tried. Anything that involves manipulating a small, metal tool to manicure my fingernails is tactilely unsettling to me. Ironically, I have absolutely no issue with clipping my toenails.


An emery board?
 
2012-10-01 03:32:56 PM

Thunderpipes: letrole: Nail Biting is a Learned Behaviour.

My 8 year old step-son has a very, very bad nail chewing habit. He cannot go more than a few seconds without chewing his nails/fingers. It is gross. playing soccer? He is out there with his hand in his mouth the whole time. His dad did the same thing, so maybe there really is truth to this.

Tried a nasty nail paint thing, he didn't care. Already had one finger infection because of it. Not sure what to do. Was thinking about making him wear boxing gloves like Strongbad whenever he is at home.


My family tried everything. Everything. The bad-tasting nail stuff, manicures, bribes. Nothing worked. You're expending a lot of energy on something that's ultimately not that important. He'll stop when he stops.
 
2012-10-01 03:38:44 PM
I bit my nails for 34 years. And it wasn't when I was nervous, or anxious, hell I don't even know why I did it. I tried quitting many times, even tried that bad-tasting stuff. Occasionally I'd make it a month or so, but then one would go down and within a day all were gone. I'm talking down to the quick. There was probably some OCD component, because once I started I basically couldn't stop, but I don't have any major OCD issues elsewhere in my life.

Then all of a sudden, I stopped. No reason, wasn't even trying to. I quit biting my fingers, and for about two months I still bit my thumbnails. Now I've been a year without biting any, unless there's a hangnail or something. I simply lost the desire. Weird.
 
2012-10-01 03:48:34 PM

basemetal: A new version is coming out early next year, and it puts pathological grooming in the same category as another disorder you've probably heard of: obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD.

What, they never considered this OCD behavior? Really?

/besides, nail biting chips your teeth
//so stop it!


I chewed my nails down to the nub my entire life until I was 28. If there was enough nail there to grab onto, I was chewing it off. Then, one day, after a particularly tough corner, one of my teeth felt a little funny. Sure enough, I had chipped one of my front 4 bottom teeth...

/That is what it took for me to stop, everytime my fingernail touched my teeth (which happened a LOT subconsciously) I would immediately imagine my tooth chipping...and put my hand back down. Now I click and tap my fingernails instead.
 
2012-10-01 03:50:40 PM
I have been biting my nails since I was 3, apparently I started when my mother made me stop sucking my thumb. Not only do I bite my nails, I do the whole hair pulling and skin picking as well. There have been times that I have made strong deliberate efforts to not bite my nails but inevitably some stressful event will trigger the biting again. Earlier this summer I began taking wellbutrin for ADHD and about two months in looked down at my hands and realized that my nails had grown. I had stopped biting them without even realizing it. I think you can stop biting your nails if you really try, but it's not some silly habit you pick up from watching someone else.

/went off the wellbutrin, nails are gone again
 
2012-10-01 04:24:48 PM
I'm a picker,

I'm a plucker

A midnight thumb-sucker

/all true, sadly
 
2012-10-01 04:46:25 PM

flyinghouse99: I have been biting my nails since I was 3, apparently I started when my mother made me stop sucking my thumb. Not only do I bite my nails, I do the whole hair pulling and skin picking as well. There have been times that I have made strong deliberate efforts to not bite my nails but inevitably some stressful event will trigger the biting again. Earlier this summer I began taking wellbutrin for ADHD and about two months in looked down at my hands and realized that my nails had grown. I had stopped biting them without even realizing it. I think you can stop biting your nails if you really try, but it's not some silly habit you pick up from watching someone else.

/went off the wellbutrin, nails are gone again


You're lucky. I went to biting the hair off my arms. But hey, I got nails now. The switch happened when I saw something traumatic.

It is a nervous disorder of sorts. I have ADD (no hyper). Always been nervous and always held stress in.
 
2012-10-01 04:46:34 PM
The question is whether the habit in question a) causes the performer distress by doing it, and b) whether contemplating stopping it causes equal or more intense distress. Nail-biting, hand washing, hair-pulling, etc., CAN be signs of OCD if they must be performed to relieve a feeling of severe distress or anxiety if they are not performed. In other words, does the nail-biter HAVE to bite his or her nails, because they don't feel "right" or "finished" unless they do, and if the biter tries to stop, does the anxiety or distress become worse the longer he abstains from biting?

If you just chew your nails because it's a thoughtless habit and you never thought one way or another about it--it's not OCD, any more than smoking is indicative of OCD. Bad habits can be broken by thinking about it and consciously redirecting behavior; OCD can't without lots of therapy and sometimes medication. There's a shading from OCD and habit that probably isn't as clear; everyone does something under stress that is compulsive or obsessional. I never bit my nails, they're hard as wood chisels, but I bite my lips instead.

All stuff like this does is freak out parents who see their darling snowflakes biting their nails or chewing their hair so they think HOLY F*CK MY KID IS MENTAL! and run for medication to prevent it.
 
2012-10-01 05:40:44 PM

cryinoutloud: WeenerGord: cryinoutloud: Yes, my son is neurotic, although he's getting better. But his father not only...etc etc
Out of all the guys you could have picked to breed with, you chose that?

I paid for it, and I paid dearly. I also learned from my mistakes and fixed my own head. So there is nothing to do now but move on. How about you?

[www.luceperformancegroup.com image 402x337]


I love that pic.

LOL
 
2012-10-01 06:39:33 PM

GBB: ok, what about biting the skin around the nail?? What's up with that???


It toughens the skin up and aids in the prevention of paper cuts. It's a useful thing to do when you work with thousands of large sheets of paper daily. I also use my teeth to trim the nails because it works better than nail clippers. It also aids in getting my daily dose of crud to give my immune system something to do instead of going after the joints.
 
2012-10-01 07:59:06 PM
*knock knock knock* Drew? *knock knock knock* Drew? *knock knock knock* Drew?

Nail biting sucks. But as a person with OCD, the act of nail biting is usually just the tip of the iceberg for someone with the disorder. The underlying reason for nail biting is what designates whether a person is suffering from OCD or not.
 
2012-10-01 07:59:34 PM

basemetal: /besides, nail biting chips your teeth


Be sure not to eat any food either!
 
GBB [TotalFark]
2012-10-01 08:06:37 PM

Smeggy Smurf: GBB: ok, what about biting the skin around the nail?? What's up with that???

It toughens the skin up and aids in the prevention of paper cuts. It's a useful thing to do when you work with thousands of large sheets of paper daily. I also use my teeth to trim the nails because it works better than nail clippers. It also aids in getting my daily dose of crud to give my immune system something to do instead of going after the joints.


i.ytimg.com
See good in bad. I like.
 
2012-10-01 08:16:15 PM

my_cats_breath_smells_like_cat_food: basemetal: A new version is coming out early next year, and it puts pathological grooming in the same category as another disorder you've probably heard of: obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD.

What, they never considered this OCD behavior? Really?

/besides, nail biting chips your teeth
//so stop it!

I chewed my nails down to the nub my entire life until I was 28. If there was enough nail there to grab onto, I was chewing it off. Then, one day, after a particularly tough corner, one of my teeth felt a little funny. Sure enough, I had chipped one of my front 4 bottom teeth...

/That is what it took for me to stop, everytime my fingernail touched my teeth (which happened a LOT subconsciously) I would immediately imagine my tooth chipping...and put my hand back down. Now I click and tap my fingernails instead.


Not only did I bite my nails, I open everything with my teeth, or used to. From plastic bags to those damn DVD cases, even used to open cans of Coke or beer with my two front teeth, since I had no nails to do it. I still chew ice. Never chipped a tooth or even had a cavity.
 
2012-10-01 08:29:35 PM

Coastalgrl: chevydeuce: I bit my nails for years, starting as a kid up til about 7 or 8 years ago...and I would chew until they bled...chewed the skin and cuticles too...hated how my hands looked, so I made a New Years resolution to stop and I did....for about 5 years, then started up again...dammit!

/I don't think it's an OCD thing, but yeah, I do have some "issues" that have never been fully resolved, so maybe there's something to it?

Everyone has some sort of 'issue' that the medical professionals would like you to get help with. All for their bottom line.

/nail biter during stressed times
//some truth to the manicure theory, never bite the nails when they are long


In a way. Some of directly profit driven, some are just carried along by the system. When medicine is a business you have to bill for time spent, in order to do that you have to classify it, in order to classify it, it has to be a diagnoses. Once it is a diagnoses (ICD-9 code) now you've made a disease out of something that you just needed a name for to get reimbursed. Now everyone thinks whatever it is that you've medicalized is a disease and people should feel sorry for them or they should take a pill for it. Medicine being a business is a bad idea and farked up.
 
2012-10-01 09:23:45 PM
I'm going to go with, bad habit.

/ nom nom nom.
// guess this would be a good time to go RTFA. :)
 
2012-10-01 09:34:52 PM
FTFA: "You can go to the place of giving kids information. Like, 'Oh, I see you biting your nails. Mommy bites her nails, too. You know why we shouldn't bite our nails? Because there are germs that live under our nails,' " explains Foose.


Oh sure, that's a brilliant thing to tell a kid with an already-elevated risk of OCD.

/getthemoutgetthemoutgetthemout
 
2012-10-01 10:14:19 PM
I'm 53 and I've been biting my nails most of my life. I've also suffered from depression and anxiety for much of my life. What stops me from biting is getting regular manicures, especially using "gel" nail polish which is thick and long lasting. If I haven't had a manicure in a while and I'm anxious/depressed, I will start trimming down nails by biting them. I hate how my nails look but keep picking at my nails until I go in for another manicure. Then the cycle repeats itself.

When I went through an acute depresssive episode which resulted in a serious suicide attempt last summer(prescription drug overdose), I recall a few days before the episode, the worst weekend of my life, I couldn't stop chewing my nails down resulting in my fingers really hurting. Somehow in the middle of this episode I managed to get manicure so I would stop the biting and stop my fingers from hurting even more. Thus I know my nail biting is related to depression/anxiety. The more severely I bite my nails, the more depressed and anxious I feel. I'm much better now than I was last summer. Nail biting is not as extreme.
 
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