Disease/Disorder “Nail Biting”
Nail biting is a common unwanted behavior which starts in late childhood and is considered as an obsessive compulsive disease/disorder. The majority of children is motivated to stop nail biting and have already tried to stop it, but is generally unsuccessful in doing so. In fact, it is a difficult behavior to change or treat. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of co-morbid psychiatric disorders in a clinical sample of children with this habit who present at a child and adolescent mental health care outpatient clinic and the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in their parents (Ahmad, 2008). Approximately 28% to 33% of children ages 7-10 are biting their nails, as well as the 44% of adolescents, 19% to 29% of young adults and 5% of older adults. It is more common in boys (Habit disorders: How to prevent and treat nail biting, 2006). First of all, nail biting is related to genetics, as it tends to run in families and is learned behavior, which would also explain the familial link. If a small child sees her parents biting their nails in times of stress or inactivity, she might try it out and derive pleasure from the action, thus sparking a habit (Santillano, 2006). Additionally, nail biting is an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which is a psychiatric mental disorder characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that significantly interfere with normal life. Obsessions are unwanted, Pham 2
recurrent, and disturbing thoughts which the person cannot suppress and which can cause overwhelming anxiety. Compulsions are repetitive, ritualized behaviors that the person feels driven to perform to alleviate the anxiety of the obsessions. The obsessive and compulsive rituals can occupy many hours of each day (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), 2010). In most severe cases, nail biting is regarded as a conscious habit of self-inflicted harm, and some specific situations may lead to negative attitudes and...
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