Severe Nail Biting and OCD

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I am a nail biter. I have always been a nail biter from what I can remember. It isn’t just an occasional thing either, it is a constant habit that I can’t control. I bite my nails until they bleed or until the nail bed is exposed. Even then, even if it causes real pain, I continue to pick at them. I chew off the skin around the nails too, including the skin on my fingertips. The end of my fingers often look scraped raw.

Yesterday I just happened to come across something online that said that this particular behavior is actually considered a disorder, a sub classification of the OCD diagnosis. There is even a fancy name for severe nail biting (onychophagia). I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, since there are other similar grooming behaviors that can lapse into obsessive compulsions (such as skin picking, hair plucking, etc.) I do have many other OCD habits and am pretty sure I have been officially diagnosed with the disorder somewhere along the line, but since I have been diagnosed with so many things it can be easy to forget the specifics.

Perhaps the oddest thing about my severe nail biting is that I have absolutely no desire to stop. I never have. Others have wanted me to stop, but I never really cared. It feels good. It is a satisfying feeling to nip and nibble at my nails. It is an especially helpful distraction during times of great stress or fear. I have never cared much what my nails looked like or worried about what other people think of them. I do get a bit self-conscious sometimes if they are bleeding in public, but other than that, I simply don’t care.

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