Why I bite my nails

This is a story about a young girl who explores the cause underlying her nail biting habits. This video introduces Body Focused Repeatable Behaviours (BFRBs), as a cause of nail biting. This story outlines several examples and explains how they can be treated. This video is for educational purposes only. It is based upon scientific research.

This video was made by McMaster students Jordan Chin and Saba Bhatti in collaboration with McMaster’s Demystifying Medical Program .
Copyright McMaster University 2022

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provides support for BFRBs
Where can I find more information?

See Houghton and colleagues for prevalence rates (mild or pathological). (2018)

For clinical case prevalence see: Hyles et al. (2009)

See Mathew and colleagues for self-harm continuums and self-injurious behaviours. (2020)

For genetic evidence see: Redden et al. (2016)

See Redden et. al. for SUD/ADHD comorbidity. (2016)

See Flessner et. al. for daily functioning with BFRBs. (2015)

For OCD-related content see: Tolin et al. (2018)

For emotional correlates see: Redden et al (2016); Roberts et al. (2013); Roberts et al.


For dermatology and BFRBs see: Sampaio & Grant (2018)

See Houghton et Al 2018
for the choice between psychologist and physician.
For psychological treatments see: Reddy et al. (2020); Woods & Houghton (2016); Nakel (2015)

End Child Anxiety


Alexander, J. R., Houghton, D. C., Bauer, C. C., Lench, H. C., & Woods, D. W. (2018). Emotion regulation deficits in people with body-focused repetitive behaviour disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 227, 463-470. Chamberlain, S. R., & Odlaug, B. L. (2014). Personality features and body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs). Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 1(1), 27-32.

Flessner, C. A., Francazio, S., Murphy, Y. E., & Brennan, E. (2015). A study of executive functioning in young adults who display body-focused repetitive behavior. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 203(7), 555-558.

Hayes, S. L., Storch, E. A., & Berlanga, L. (2009). A study of skin picking behavior: The prevalence and severity of this disorder in a community sample. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23(3), 314-319.

Houghton, D. C., Alexander, J. R., Bauer, C. C., & Woods, D. W. (2018). Repetitive body-focused behaviors: Are they more common than we thought? Psychiatry research, 270, 389-393.

Mathew, A. S., Davine, T., Snorrason, I., Houghton, D. C., Woods, D. W., & Lee, H. J. (2020). Comparison of body-focused repetitive behavior and non-suicidal suicide-injury: A comparison between clinical characteristics and symptoms. Journal of psychiatric Research.

Nakell, S. (2015). A healing herd: The benefits of a psychodynamic approach to treating repetitive body-focused behaviors. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 65(2), 295-306.

Redden, S. A., Leppink, E. W., & Grant, J. E. (2016). Repetitive behavior disorders based on body-focused behaviors: The importance of family history. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 66, 187-192.

Reddy, Y. J., Sudhir, P. M., Manjula, M., Arumugham, S. S., & Narayanaswamy, J. C. (2020). Guidelines for Clinical Practice in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies for Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, and Related Disorders. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(Suppl 2), S230.

Roberts, S., O’Connor, K., & Belanger, C. (2013). Emotion regulation and psychological models for body-focused repetitive behavior. Clinical Psychology Review, 33(6), 745-762.

Roberts, S., O’Connor, K., Aardema, F., & Belanger, C. (2015). The impact of emotions on body-Focused repetitive behaviors: Evidence from a non-treatment-seeking sample. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 46, 189-197.

Sampaio, D. G., & Grant, J. E. (2018). The dermatology patient and body-focused repetitive behavior. Clinics in dermatology, 36(6), 723-727

Selles, R. R., Ariza, V. L. B., McBride, N. M., Dammann, J., Whiteside, S., & Storch, E. A. (2018). Initial psychometrics, results, and correlates for the Repetitive Body Focused Behaviour Scale: Examination in a sample youth with anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 81, 10-17. Tolin, D. F., Gilliam, C., Wootton, B. M., Bowe, W., Bragdon, L. B., Davis, E., … & Hallion, L. S. (2018). Psychometric properties of a structured diagnostic interview to diagnose DSM-5 anxiety, mood, obsessive-compulsive disorder and related disorders. Assessment, 25(1), 3-13.

Woods, D. W., & Houghton, D. C. (2016). Psychosocial treatment for children with repetitive, body-focused behavior disorders. Evidence-based psychosocial treatments. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 45(3), 227-240.

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