Nervous Nellies

Got a nervous habit? Maybe you’re a perfectionist!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:
Nail biting. Skin picking. Hair pulling. These are all examples of body-focused repetitive disorders—or BFRDs for short. Are they just nervous habits? Canadian researchers think not. They believe BFRDs are actually the result of underlying perfectionist tendencies, not of nervousness alone.

Of the forty-eight people surveyed, the team found that half had issues with overplanning, overworking, and frustration over inactivity. Those are traits all common to perfectionists. These people were also the ones with BFRDs.

Later, all forty-eight people were shown movie clips meant to provoke a single feeling: stress, frustration, boredom—or relaxation. Those with body-focused disorders engaged in their repetitive behavior during all the movies except the relaxation one. Meaning that multiple negative feelings can trigger the behaviors, but feeling relaxed suppresses them.

The researchers believe their findings could help therapists treat people with BFRDs.

As for those raggedy nails? Yelp a manicurist. With underlying perfectionist tendencies. It’s not too much to ask.