Have you ever seen abraded nails as if they were eaten by mites? A common reason for this is the habit of nail-biting. Some do this when they’re agitated, bored, worried, or thinking. Others even resort to biting their nails without realizing it. Is nail biting bad?
Absolutely. Pop culture denotes nail-biting as a cute habit. You’ll usually see characters in dramas, movies, and animes do this when they’re in a pinch. But in real life, nail-biting can be harmful to kids and adults. As a matter of fact, there’s a formal clinical term for it – onychophagia. Let’s explore what it is and how to treat it.
What Is Onycophagia?
Onycophagia or nail-biting is a psychiatric disorder characterized by periodic biting or peeling of the nails with the teeth. This is different from the occasional nail-biting as it is uncontrollable. A person who is forced to stop without effective treatment might display withdrawal symptoms.
Therapists see nail-biting as a specific form of obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. OCD is a mental disorder that causes a person to do a particular recurrent task right away. Psychological and environmental triggers cause the urge of doing the task.
Teenagers are the most susceptible to nail-biting, specifically those who are under 13-16 years old. Nail-biting is also prevalent among kids ages 3 – 10 years old. With adult supervision, kids can easily quit this habit. But if left alone, they might continue to bite their nails until adulthood.
Why is nail-biting bad? Nail-biting can severely damage the nails and make them look jagged and scratched. It causes swelling of the nail groove and the free edge. Finally, it can increase the chances of parasitic infestation in the stomach and degradation of dental health.
Management for onychophagia varies depending on its severity. During its early stage, simple interventions such as trimming and wearing nail polish can help. Resorting to doing tasks that make the hands busy whenever the urge comes is also viable.
But what if the nail-biting becomes very uncontrollable that one resorts to doing to the point of injury? In that case, seek clinical aid immediately. There are lots of existing treatments. A treatment that’s worth trying is hypnosis for nail-biting. Is it effective? Proofs are on the next section so continue reading.
Case Studies of Hypnotherapy for Nail Biting
Disclaimer: This is a summary of the research titled Hypnotherapy in Case of Adult Nailbiting by Doris Gruenewald. Please use the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis as the apropos source and not this website.
Overview of the Subject
The subject of the study was is Mrs. X a woman in her late forties who grew up in a dysfunctional environment. Her mother was a perfectionist who failed to display genuine love. The same also goes for the father who displayed disappointment in her and who died when she was young.
Mrs. X’s troubled childhood grew on her. She married but was soon divorced. She eventually remarried but her husband died. These contributed further to her broken self. Eventually, she decided to keep her emotions and bay and formed only feckless relationships with men. A salient feature of her case is that she kept on biting her nails without control whatsoever.
Treatment for Mrs. X began by preparing her for hypnosis. Mrs. X responded well to hypnotic techniques but wasn’t able to enter deep trance which is central to her treatment. The therapist resorted to using a permissive approach wherein hypnosis was administered but no suggestions were given.
With the permissive approach, Mrs. X managed to revisit forgotten episodes of her childhood that cause the nail-biting. She recalled herself biting her nails before touching her newborn sister who her mother greatly adores. This led to the realization that nail-biting was a form of self-punishment for Mrs. X.
Mrs.X further remembered how her deceased mother was like in the past. Her mom was the type to ask her to groom perfectly in public. Her mother also resorted to crushing one of the subject’s fingernails so she won’t rebel. This lead to the realization that nail-biting was also a result of the trauma of the subject from her mother.
Upon addressing these issues, the therapist proceeded to use hypnosis for the subject to reconcile with her painful past. She was conditioned to love herself and accept that she doesn’t have to be perfect for anyone.
Result of The Treatment
After the therapy, Mrs.X displayed a more relaxed personality. She quit having superficial relationships with men. She had a better bearing with life and was more involved with the persons around her. Furthermore, the feeling of perfectionism receded and she learned to accept rejection as a normal phenomenon.
Disclaimer: This is a summary of the research titled Tongue Thrust and Nail Biting Simultaneously Treated During Hypnosis: A Case Report. Please cite the original work in the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis.
Overview of the Subject
The subject was a 14-year-old girl having good mental health. The only problem was her habit of thrusting her tongue. Further interviews revealed that accompanying it is the habit of nail biting.
Hypnosis was done via visual imagery. While on the hypnosis state, the therapist made the subject aware of the negative sensations whenever she’s about to thrust her tongue or bite her nails. Furthermore, hypnosis induced her to position her tongue appropriately and stop herself from biting her nails to replace the bad feelings with wonderful ones.
Result of the Treatment
Three months after the treatment, the parents reported that the child didn’t have damaged nails which is a result of nailbiting. Moreover, they consulted an orthodontist who said that the tongue-thrusting habit was remedied.
Is Hypnosis for Nail Biting Effective?
Hypnosis for nail biting is effective. In the first case study, hypnosis helped determine past traumatic experiences that might trigger the need of the subject to biting the nails. In the second case study, hypnosis was used to induce an alternative sensation whenever the subject feels the urge to bite the nails.
Hypnosis for Nail Biting FAQs
What Does Nail Biting Do To My Social Life?
Most see nail-biting as a dirty habit. And for that reason, many will try to avoid you whenever you’re doing it. Some also see nail-biting as strange behavior.
Why Can’t I Enter Trance?
A primary reason is your environment. It might be that the surroundings make it hard for you to concentrate. Your mindset is another factor too. Remember that you must believe in hypnosis and be willing to do it to enter trance, Finally, the material for hypnosis might be bad. To get the best, download at HypnosisDownloads.com.
Should I Use Hypnotherapy for Nail Biters Under 10 Years Old?
Early intervention will work. Try telling the child off. Hypnosis isn’t harmful to young ones. Concentrating isn’t a thing for a child. And for this reason, a therapist might difficulties in putting him or her into a deep trance.