Why are we doing this?

Nail biting is an unpleasant habit not only from an aesthetic point of view, but also dangerous for your health. Doing this, you not only run the risk of introducing viruses and infections into the body, but also greatly worsen the condition of your teeth.

However, knowing that this is bad does not stop us. Why do we do this, and what explanations do scientists offer? Here are some interesting theories.

1 The cause of nail biting is difficult to point out

When it comes to figuring out the reasons for the nail-biting habit, psychologists name almost everything that exists in our lives. Some people follow a fairly common explanation: they say that this is due to concern, boredom, fatigue, or a desire for comfort.

Others, however, have more specific explanations. So, Sigmund Freud believed that this indicates some kind of error in psychosexual development from childhood (because, of course, this is the root of all the troubles).

The assumptions also included explanations that it was self-harm and a sign of internal aggression towards oneself. Another theory is that there is really no universal reason for this habit: it develops due to a variety of factors.

You can bite your nails because you need an outlet for the stress of waiting for an interview, while your friend starts doing it to relieve the tension during a long car ride. These are all parts of the same spectrum.

2 Some scientists believe that this is due to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

In 2012, there was a small shift in the world of nail biting. This was the year when the American Psychiatric Association (APA) decided that this behavior was considered a form of “pathological grooming”, along with plucking eyelashes or obsessive picking at wounds, and therefore deserves to be part of the pantheon of behaviors associated with OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

However, this is not an indisputable opinion. Some psychologists have accused the APA of bullying and reinforcing the importance of what for many people is a simple stress-relief habit, rather than a serious failure in impulse control.

Serious nail biting as a psychological problem and a physical disorder does exist, but the debate over whether even minor cases are also pathological is still ongoing.

3 New Study Says It’s a Sign of Perfectionism

A study published in 2015 in the journal Scientific American places nail biting in a different area of behavior: repetitive body-oriented disorders, such as scratching or stroking one’s own hair.

And this seems to be related to one particular personality type that has a higher potential for boredom, stress, and anxiety than many others: perfectionists.

People who focus on high performance and perfection seem to be more vulnerable to repetitive body-focused disorders because they are easily fatigued or frustrated, and they tend to take it out on the little things around them.