Why I bite my nails

This is a story about a young girl who explores the cause underlying her nail biting habits. The video introduces Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs) as a reason for nail biting. This story outlines several examples of BFRBs, their causes, and treatments. This video is intended for educational purposes only and is based on scientific research.

This video was created by McMaster students Jordan Chin, Saba Bhatti, and Viktoriya Bilyk in collaboration with the McMaster Demystifying Medicine Program

Copyright McMaster University 2022

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For support with BFRBs visit /

Where to find information:

● For prevalence rates (mild and pathological) see: Houghton et al. (2018)

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

● For self-harm continuum and self injurious behaviours see: Mathew et al. (2020)

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

● For SUD and ADHD comorbidity see: Redden et al. (2016)

● For daily functioning with BFRBs see: Flessner et al. (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)

● For choice between physician and psychologist see: Houghton et al 2018

● For psychological treatments see: Reddy et al. (2020); Woods & Houghton (2016); Nakel (2015)


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

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

Hayes, S. L., Storch, E. A., & Berlanga, L. (2009). Skin picking behaviors: An examination of the prevalence and severity 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). Body-focused repetitive behaviors: More prevalent than once thought?. Psychiatry research, 270, 389-393.

Mathew, A. S., Davine, T., Snorrason, I., Houghton, D. C., Woods, D. W., & Lee, H. J. (2020). Body-focused repetitive behaviors and non-suicidal self-injury: A comparison of clinical characteristics and symptom features. Journal of psychiatric research.

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

Redden, S. A., Leppink, E. W., & Grant, J. E. (2016). Body focused repetitive behavior disorders: Significance of family history. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 66, 187-192.

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

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

Roberts, S., O’Connor, K., Aardema, F., & Bélanger, 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). Body-focused repetitive behaviors and the dermatology patient. 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, outcomes, and correlates of the Repetitive Body Focused Behavior Scale: examination in a sample of youth with anxiety and/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 for DSM-5 anxiety, mood, and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. Assessment, 25(1), 3-13.

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

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