Nail biting is considered a repetitive behavior that shows different levels of intensity. Some nail biters just nibble a little on their fingernails. Almost as if there is flavor that they are trying to get a taste of. Then there are people who are nail biters that really go to town on their fingers. They not only bite their nails but also chew and bite the skin around their nails as well as the cuticles. And there is a vast range of behaviors between these ends of the spectrum. Whatever kind of nail biter you are, your primary interest is to stop nail biting.
Compulsive nail biting is not only about biting your nails, but the chewing and biting becomes so serious that it leads to bleeding, open sores that can become infected which can also lead to permanent disfigurement. These people usually also have some forms of OCD or other mental illness. This stems from an unconscious behavior that is also apparent in the common form of nail biting. Compulsive nail biting with OCD drivers are not very common. Many people who are nail biters are often unaware of when they bite their nails, so it becomes that much more difficult to put an end to the behavior.
It is thought that the cause of nail biting comes from the environment. Some think that there is a biological connection to this behavior as well. This could be a learned response passed on from parent to child, or spread around among other children.
There can be several reasons that people bite their nails. I have read conflicting reasons offered by different psychologists, and psychiatrists. And here are two examples of opposite reasons given by differing psychological views.
Nail biting is sometimes noted as a response to stress. Biting the nails acts as a way of soothing and calming the nail biter. It could be reducing stimulation.
And then on the other hand, biting your fingernails could increase your level of stimulation when you are bored. It could help to keep the person awake and aware. Do you see what I mean? There's that connection with two totally opposing responses to the same exact stimulus. So what I get from this is that it's totally dependent on what associations that the nail biter has created on their own.
Perfectionism has been claimed to be one of the reasons for nail biting as well. Trying to straighten out irregular shaped nails by biting them into shape. This causes far more problems with the way the nails end up looking than when they started out.
There are a number of these types of behaviors that are thought to be related. Some examples are hair pulling, skin picking, nail biting and cheek chewing. With each of these problems the common remedies seem to revolve around the same protocols.
With so many differing psychological reasons for nail biting, I get the feeling that psychologists really do not know why people become nail biters. Their approach to helping nail biters also widely varies.
You can drug your self using anti depressants that are prescribed for people suffering from OCD. This is a mainstream approach for nail biters and you need to be under the treatment of a psychiatrist.
The current methods using psychotherapy revolve around re training the person to monitor and change their responses. The techniques involve habit reversal training. Using self monitoring the patient becomes aware of their behaviors, seeking to interrupt the behavior. Then there's stimulus control which is a therapeutic way of changing a persons internal moods, and emotions.
A competing response is designed to supply the patient with an alternative to biting their nails. This approach usually is scheduled over a 3 or more month period. And usually takes over a year for the urges to fade away.
Nail biting hypnosis speeds up the process considerably. Depending upon what type of nail biting you are experiencing, and how determined you are to stop nail biting, you can stop biting your nails in the very first visit to the hypnotist. Others can take a number of sessions longer. The industry average that people see hypnotists to resolve their problem is 4 to 6 sessions. With habits residing in the subconscious mind, and with hypnosis being the premier way of communicating with your subconscious it's no wonder that it works so much quicker.