Study Links Biting Other People’s Nails to Family Trauma

Extrapersonal nail biter biting someone's toenails off.

ATLANTA — A shocking new study conducted by the Millennial Snowflake Research Center (MSRC) found that people who bite other people’s nails suffered higher rates of deep family trauma.

MSRC researcher C.J. Curtis initially thought to study the issue when he fell asleep on a flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta. When he woke up, his cuticles were nearly all gone and the man seated next to him had ahold of his hand and was chewing on his nails. While, Curtis was initially startled, instead of getting angry with the man, the scientific part of Curtis prompted him to begin questioning the man. Curtis wanted to understand what made him want to chew someone else’s nails off.

“We’re all familiar with nail biting. It’s a fairly common nervous tic. However, what I didn’t realize at the time, is that there’s a fairly large number of people chronically suffering from what I call extrapersonal nail biting or the need to chew on other people’s fingernails or toenails, sometimes both,” says Curtis.

In a study of 500 subjects suffering from extrapersonal nail biting (ENB), roughly 90 percent had experienced deep family trauma, such as abandonment, parents splitting up, the loss of a family member, physical or emotional abuse by a family member, or some combination of these aforementioned traumas.

“It was eye-opening to say the least. My theory is that ENB is related to a deep-seated desire to please others, which relates directly to family trauma as that would typically be the most immediate group of people one would seek approval from,” says Curtis.

Since the study was made public, hundreds of thousands of ENB sufferers have been telling their stories and sharing their struggle on social media. To share your journey with ENB or simply show your support of the ENB community, post #ExtrapersonalNailBitersAren’tFreaks accompanied by your words of encouragement.

“You are not alone. Someday we won’t have to beg or wait till people are asleep or unconscious or not looking to bite their nails,” says Curtis. “Things will get better for us.”


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