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Thread: Picking at Self

  1. #1

    Default Picking at Self

    I have some really bad 'picking' habits: at my cuticles (I bite my nails too), my gums and facial blemishes. The latter two are really the worst.

    I'm really trying to clear up my face, but if there is even the slightest blemish, I have to pick at it to rid my face of it, but the picking causes either a) the blemish to go in deeper and becoming infected and/or b) an open wound that is far worse than the original blemish (which I then pick and pick and pick and never let heal because I hate the idea of having a scab on my face).

    My gums are really swollen and bleeding easily right now because I keep picking at them with folded receipts, pen caps, etc.

    I've heard that these types of activities are forms of self-mutilation, that they represent trying to purge the self of anything unwanted. I've also heard that in the case of nail biting, one is trying to 'de-claw' themselves, repressing anger and regression.

    I'm not finding sufficient information on the psychological nature of these habits. Do you guys have any resources?

  2. #2
    Earth Exalted Array Thursday's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    8w9 sp/sx


    You don't need any psychological mumbo-jumbo

    off the top of my psychic head: don't believe you deserve better - self doubt

    2.when in a position to transcend such tripe, you delve into or manifest or indulge a situation that brings you right back to square one - in some less than perfect dynamic are comfortable yet disturbed by this because you are emotionally tied to such emotional-crimes committed against you, because you never forgave yourself the first time it happended - or anytime after that.
    4.A cycle continues, and a thread called "Picking at Self" arises

    5.I want to give you a and make all the baddies go away, but even if we were close enough to do so - you can only do so yourself - realizing that you need and deserve the best for you - which is better than what you are entertaining now.
    I N V I C T U S

  3. #3


    This is one of those moments where only emoticons can convey my response...

    Seriously, Thursday...damn!

    P.S. Case closed.

  4. #4
    Temporal Mechanic. Array Lexicon's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    5w6 sp/sx


    Picking habits tend to be part of a variety of impulse control disorders within the broad spectrum of obsessive compulsive disorders.Dermatillomania - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It's a mind-body bond, a short-term endorphin release that reinforces the behavior, similar to a drug addiction. It's theorized that some people have more endorphin receptors in their brains than others, which is why they tend to derive more relief/pleasure through this behavior, & are thus more prone to repeating it to seek relief from real or perceived anxiety, conscious or unconscious.

    I've known a few people with compulsive skin-picking disorders, as well as a disorder where they compulsively pull out their hair, known as trichotillomania. It is possible to get these behaviors under control. One of my friends, everytime she caught herself picking, feeling the urge to, or was right about to pick, she'd grab a notepad and just wrtie down whatever thoughts/feelings were going through her mind right at that moment. Eventually she was able to look back and see the cognitive pattern triggering her behaviors, and, reduced the urges through gradually redirecting those chemical impulses through writing as the urge presented itself. Kind of like grabbing an apple when you have a sugar cravng instead of a slice of cake. Ya wait ten mintues after having the apple, and you tend to want cake less and less over time. Reducing unhealthy cravings, in a sense.

    *This isn't directly psych-related, but it's a potetial medical issue that can arise as a result of dermatillomania. Infections from picking at the skin tend to be bacterial, staph bacteria to be more specific. It lives on the skin & under fingernails normally but doesn't become harmful until it enters the deeper tissues through breaks in the epidermis. I feel it's kind of necessary to mention that infections on the skin, especially the face, can be more dangerous than you might initially think. Staph bacterial infections on the face that infect deep tissues can get into the bloodstream and pass the infection along to the brain. Meningitis is deadly. It's rare in young adults w/healthy immune systems, but it's not impossible. If you're getting infections on your skin fairly often, have a cold/flu at the same time/are menstruating or on antibiotics for any reason, your immune system's fairly compromised, fighting all those physiological changes/issues at once, and you're more succeptible to more severe infection. This may sound farfetched or paranoid, but it's a possibility I wouldn't take lightly. I would also recommend taking a multivitamin once a day, and Fish Oil 1200mg supplements, & L-Lysine 500mg supplements to promote healthy skin & heal the external damage.

    Best of luck.
    03/23 06:06:58 EcK: lex
    03/23 06:06:59 EcK: lex
    03/23 06:21:34 Nancynobullets: LEXXX *sacrifices a first born*
    03/23 06:21:53 Nancynobullets: We summon yooouuu
    03/23 06:29:07 Lexicon: I was sleeping!

    04/25 04:20:35 Patches: Don't listen to lex. She wants to birth a litter of kittens. She doesnt get to decide whats creepy

    02/16 23:49:38 ygolo: Lex is afk
    02/16 23:49:45 Cimarron: she's doing drugs with Jack

    03/05 19:27:41 Time: You can't make chat morbid. Lex does it naturally.

  5. #5
    won't be missed Array /DG/'s Avatar
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    Mar 2009


    I pick at small scabs on my legs and blemishes on my face when I'm bored. I didn't know it was self-mutilation, though.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Array
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    Feb 2009


    I found Lexicon's post really helpful. I have this problem, and I have heard that it's common among people with OCD and/or Borderline Personality Disorder (both anxiety disorders, and I have both).

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