Skin picking, hair pulling and nail biting are all related behaviors. Skin picking, hair pulling and nail biting are labeled as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders or OCD. People who bite their nails often hide their hands behind their backs. People who bite their nails often feel shame and experience out-of-control feelings at times. At times they may wonder why they are not able to stop biting their nails and they may question whether or not they are crazy.
Biting generally happens when nail biters are in one of two modes. Some biters do it in an automatic way, as if they are in a trance and not thinking about what they are doing. It's often when they are immersed in some other activity at the same time such as reading, talking on the phone, working at the computer, watching TV, etc. For others, the deliberate picking or biting is their main activity at the time, and they will often interrupt other activities to engage in it.
There is also a strong commonality seen in the purposes behind hair pulling, skin picking and nail biting. At a very basic level, they satisfy an urge. Many people report an uncontrollable compulsion to do them. Biting, picking or pulling also seems to deliver a pleasurable or relaxed sensation.
When sufferers feel stressed, doing these things has a kind of soothing effect on them and reduces levels of stimulation. On the other hand, when they are bored or inactive, they seem to provide a needed level of stimulation to the nervous system. This probably accounts for why so many people who have these habits find it so hard to give them up. It simply "feels good" at the time no matter what.
Even if you have more than one of these problems, do not give up. These negative behaviors can be overcome if you have enough motivation. More important is learning to "de-stigmatize" yourself. You are not crazy, helpless, morally weak or totally out of control, even though you may feel like you are at times. Once you get down to realizing that you are just a person who simply happens to have a problem, you can make some serious progress.
Skin picking and nail biting are chronic problems, so there currently isn't a "cure" but you can find relief if you are willing to work at it. Therapy for nail biting consists of three parts.
Hypnosis For Nail Biting
First of all, nail biting is a nervous habit. So the first part of the therapy is to teach the individual how to be more relaxed at all times. To that end, I have found that traditional hypnosis, Ericksonian hypnosis, and Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques can be very effective. That's because the very essence of hypnosis is relaxation. The biter can learn to apply several different methods to increase both the relaxed state, as well as his/her overall feeling of well-being.
The second part of the therapy teaches the biter awareness of this unconscious habit. Suggestions can be given to the subconscious mind to make the consciousness aware that you are bringing your hand towards your mouth. Then you get to consciously decide whether or not you are actually going to bite them.
There are several other effective hypnosis and NLP methods. As an example, we can help the client to set up an "Anchor" or trigger so that he/she can momentarily mentally step outside of him/herself. This is an effective method that will effectively relieve the urge.
The third part of the therapy is to eliminate the compulsion to bite the nails. There are NLP methods that actually program the client with a compulsion to not bite his/her nails.
With the nail biting habit, being realistic is very important. First off, you have practiced the unwanted habit hundreds or even thousands of times. It is important to accept that the behavior of biting your nails will not be overcome in a few weeks.
Secondly, you are fighting the fact that it feels good to do, and it offers short-term satisfaction and either stimulation or soothing feelings. It can take time to overcome, but I believe it is worth it. Experience has shown a number of methods to be quite effective!
Alan B. Densky, CH is a hypnotheraist & NLP Practitioner specializing in stress related behaviors. He offers Hypnotherapy CDs that eliminate the nail biting compulsion. Reach him at his Neuro-VISION Hypnosis ecommerce site. Visit his FREE hypnosis article collection, or download his MP3s.