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(NPR)   Is nail biting a bad habit, or is it a mental disorder?   (npr.org) divider line 47
    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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Archived thread
2012-10-01 12:23:06 PM
4 votes:
Yes, it's a mental disorder. So is being shy. Or outgoing. Or choosing bachelorhood over family life. Or talking too loud, believing in God, preferring one race or gender over another in some aspect of daily life, or habitually tapping one's toes.

To put it simply, there are no normal people.
2012-10-01 12:32:27 PM
2 votes:

Sentient: To put it simply, there are no normal people.


They'll eventually make a drug for that too.
2012-10-01 12:03:28 PM
2 votes:
I used to be a nail biter, but now I'm down to only chewing on them when I have a jagged edge and no file or clippers handy. Nail polish is supposed to help people stop, but all it did for me was make my nails taste weird and coated my teeth in paint chips.
2012-10-01 11:55:19 AM
2 votes:

halotosis: Yeah, that's kind of along my line of thinking. Nail biting is a natural way of trimming your nails down. Nail trimmers do not exist in the wilderness. For farks sake, my cats chew on their claws all day long to keep them short.


Yeah because normally we'd be doing stuff that wears them down. Same with your cats.

Anyway, nail biting is a symptom just like hand washing is a symptom - only when it gets to crazy "my fingers are bleeding but I can't stop" levels.
2012-10-01 11:38:52 AM
2 votes:

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, that's kind of along my line of thinking. Nail biting is a natural way of trimming your nails down. Nail trimmers do not exist in the wilderness. For farks sake, my cats chew on their claws all day long to keep them short.
2012-10-01 10:13:52 AM
2 votes:
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!
2012-10-01 03:29:02 PM
1 votes:
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 03:13:31 PM
1 votes:

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 02:53:41 PM
1 votes:

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 02:28:19 PM
1 votes:
I'm not depressed or OCD...so I will go with neurotic, a tad anxious and super fidgety.
2012-10-01 02:12:52 PM
1 votes:

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 02:03:02 PM
1 votes:
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 01:51:46 PM
1 votes:
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 01:33:19 PM
1 votes:

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 01:27:54 PM
1 votes:

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 01:03:19 PM
1 votes:
It's lo-cal, and cheap entertainment. Way cheaper than manicures. Piss off.

Nose picking pretty much rocks too.
2012-10-01 01:03:02 PM
1 votes:

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 01:02:05 PM
1 votes:

otto the bull: I keep my nails bitten down to the quick so I can dig deep into my nose without any damage.


How do you get the boogers out without a nail to 'shovel' with?
2012-10-01 01:01:00 PM
1 votes:
I have a friend that is addicted to chapstick; probably 20 - 30 times per day. I wonder if it is a bad habit or mental disorder? Seems like it could be both fear based and rewarding.
2012-10-01 01:00:35 PM
1 votes:

cgraves67: I do all the the neurotic behaviors described in the article. I bite my nails, I pull hair, and I pick at my skin. It's really not healthy. I can't grow a beard because if I do, then I can't help but fuss at it and pull loose hairs and then it gets all thin and ugly. I have pock marks all over my face because I couldn't help but pick at my acne when I was young.


I'm right there with you. Everything you said applies to me too. I'm 24 and I've yet to break the habits.
2012-10-01 12:57:55 PM
1 votes:

Aidan: 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.

I think for some it IS OCD. I have various habits that I seem to rotate. Nail biting. Playing with my hair. Pulling my eyelashes. Scratching my ears. It's one of the reasons I don't wear makeup. It'd be yet another thing to pick at. I assume it's all due to my personality. For others, I suspect it's much easier to quit.


You are describing neurotic behaviors, but none of them are OCD. OCD by definition is repetitious, ritualistic, conscious behaviors, which if not performed cause distress. I'd be willing to bet that when you do the things you do, you don't even realizing you are doing them most of the time. 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.
2012-10-01 12:54:26 PM
1 votes:
Why don't all the nailbiters post images of their nail bitten fingers?

And their twigged hair and ear scratching behaviors. I still don't know what they mean by those last two.
2012-10-01 12:51:20 PM
1 votes:
Nail biting is definitely one of those awkwardly rewarding behaviors. Definitely triggers some sense of accomplishment in your brain..followed by horror and shame at how your fingers look. OCD is not really a big thing for me, I don't worry or obsess about much: I am clinically depressed and diagnosed by a doctor, not the internet. I take a low amount of Celexa for the depression that broke me in my 20's, which seems to have fixed those things, but nothing has ever broken the fingernail biting. I may try getting a manicure and see if that can somehow break my habit, nothing else has worked so nothing wrong with trying I guess.
2012-10-01 12:47:11 PM
1 votes:
When more than 50% of the population is diagnosed with OCD, is it still a disorder? Or is it normal? And all the normal people are then diagnosed as having a mental illness of non-OCD.
2012-10-01 12:46:06 PM
1 votes:

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
2012-10-01 12:43:33 PM
1 votes:

Walker: I used to bite my nails when I was a teenager, then one day they tasted bad and I was like "What could that taste be? Think of all the gross stuff that could be beneath your fingernails. Your poop, gross stuff from other people, etc." I immediately stopped and haven't done it since. Gross habit.


Your poop? Just how close are you getting your fingers to your poop hole when you wipe? I like to get a huge hand full of toilet paper so my fingers are at least 6 inches away from the business end when I wipe. So what if I have to buy toilet paper every two days?
2012-10-01 12:38:13 PM
1 votes:
Eventually every damn human behavior will be a symptom of some disease or another.

The problem is, even if the DSM has strict diagnostic requirements (for example, biting your nails isn't enough - it has to be obsessive and result in damage or something), that won't stop a commerical at every break on TV from saying "do you bite your nails? You might suffer from chronic nail-biting disorder. Ask your physician about Bite No More" or whatever.

Mental illnesses are real, but so is GlaxoSmithKline's profit motive.
2012-10-01 12:38:04 PM
1 votes:

Pocket Ninja: nihilestnefaspermeism


This is already indexed on Google and links back to your comment.

O_O
2012-10-01 12:26:57 PM
1 votes:

cgraves67: I do all the the neurotic behaviors described in the article. I bite my nails, I pull hair, and I pick at my skin. It's really not healthy. I can't grow a beard because if I do, then I can't help but fuss at it and pull loose hairs and then it gets all thin and ugly. I have pock marks all over my face because I couldn't help but pick at my acne when I was young.


My son does all this too, the leftover from being raised by a complete psycho who did even worse things (no not me). Yes, my son is neurotic, although he's getting better. But his father not only bit his fingernails, he'd get a razor blade and cut all his cuticles off, cut his callouses off. He picked at his hair, pulled the hair on his arms out, picked and scabs and blemishes until they bled, pulled his eyelbrows out. He wasn't even aware that he did this stuff; he'd go into some sort of zombie state where he wasn't even aware of his surroundings, but still he'd twirl his hair, pick, pick pick at something, get out his razor blade.....and then if you go just a little further, you get into "cutter" territory, and you know that just isn't right.

So if you do these sorts of things, something's wrong. I gradually stopped biting my fingernails, stopped all that shiat, as I got my life together (when I left the psycho, that is.) My kid is gradually stopping his fingernail-chewing and picking at at his skin. But if I run into someone who has those awful, ragged, chewed-off ends of their fingers, I still think, Beware. Because I've never met anyone who did that who wasn't a hot mental mess.
2012-10-01 12:26:23 PM
1 votes:
for all y'all that quit, I just bit all of my nails twice...and a couple cuticles.
2012-10-01 12:18:22 PM
1 votes:
It's probably both. Every serious nail-biter I have ever met was OCD or clinically anxious/depressed in some manner.

The upside? All of those germs ingested probably build immunity.
2012-10-01 12:07:30 PM
1 votes:
I bit my nails until I was 21...then I decided to stop. I did stop, cold turkey, for 5 years. I loved manicuring my nails, and kept them very nice. Then I had my daughter, and my lovely manicured nails scratched her very delicate skin...so I bit them off. And I've kept them bit down ever since, because I have neither the time nor the money to manicure my nails anymore. I also twig my hair. Oh, well. No, I don't want my children to do it, but I don't think it's necessarily a learned behavior. My daughter has been twigging her hair since she had the ability to control her hands enough to twig it. As long as it doesn't interfere with everyday life or cause health problems, I don't see the harm.
2012-10-01 12:04:26 PM
1 votes:

dericwater: Used to bite my nails in high school and early years of college. Some hottie co-ed in college said it was a bad habit. Quit on the spot.

/Didn't get hottie, still.


It may have helped you get other 'hotties'. So it's all good.
2012-10-01 12:02:22 PM
1 votes:
Used to bite my nails in high school and early years of college. Some hottie co-ed in college said it was a bad habit. Quit on the spot.

/Didn't get hottie, still.
2012-10-01 11:58:48 AM
1 votes:

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.


Funny...when I studied a decade ago this was covered....it's is not a disorder in and of itself, but can be a symptom of a conversion disorder.

No way it should be it's own disorder.
2012-10-01 11:58:03 AM
1 votes:
Only if you can hear your nails scream when you bite them.
2012-10-01 11:50:28 AM
1 votes:
I think it is both.

I bit my nails starting as a toddler. I eventually ended up with OCD - including behaviors like picking at my skin (I am sooooo lucky it didn't leave scars). OCD is related to illnesses like depression, which I also eventually got. My depression is now under control and being treated -- with a med that is indicated for OCD, but not depression, oddly enough (Luvox). I no longer bite my nails, but I still pick my cuticles like crazy despite the OCD med. So in my case, I definitely think it is a bot of both.

/As a pre-teen, I used a crude behavioral therapy to 'cure' myself of the worst OCD behaviors without realizing I was doing something so "sophisticated.'
//CSB
2012-10-01 11:48:48 AM
1 votes:
Lifelong nail-biter until about 4 years ago. It was bad--the sensation of just ripping away the nail from the bed at the edges was such a rush. I started stimulant medication (for ADHD) and then began carrying a nail clipper with me everywhere I went. Managed to supplant the habit, now I trim my nails like a good boy even though I don't have insurance for meds.
GBB [TotalFark]
2012-10-01 11:45:36 AM
1 votes:
ok, what about biting the skin around the nail?? What's up with that???
2012-10-01 11:44:28 AM
1 votes:
I do all the the neurotic behaviors described in the article. I bite my nails, I pull hair, and I pick at my skin. It's really not healthy. I can't grow a beard because if I do, then I can't help but fuss at it and pull loose hairs and then it gets all thin and ugly. I have pock marks all over my face because I couldn't help but pick at my acne when I was young.
2012-10-01 11:43:22 AM
1 votes:
Mine or other people's?
2012-10-01 11:41:03 AM
1 votes:
Finger nalis or toe nails?
2012-10-01 11:37:42 AM
1 votes:

jaylectricity: I'll bite my nails if they get really long, but it's never been a nervous habit, and only on accident have I ever bit off more than I could chew.


Kinda the same here. I bite my nails because I'm too lazy to use the nail clippers. I only bite them when they get long enough to impede typing, musical instrument playing, or fingering my wife.

Sorry if that last one was TMI.
2012-10-01 11:32:38 AM
1 votes:
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.
2012-10-01 11:32:17 AM
1 votes:
It IS a mental disorder, and wil WILL make a pill for it.

/Ask your doctor if Nailbitinol is right for you.
2012-10-01 10:53:11 AM
1 votes:
I used to bite my nails. Then I stopped

/this in no way implies that I don't have a mental disorder
2012-10-01 10:29:16 AM
1 votes:
Yes.

/chronic nail biter
 
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