5 Private Habits Everyone’s Ashamed Of And What They Really Mean

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

1. Nail Biting And Skin Picking

Everyone’s seen the image in popular culture of the nervous nail biter who’s come up against a stressful situation and begun immediately trimming their nails with their teeth. It’s a trope almost, as familiar an image as the nervous chain smoker.

Well, not so fast, one study suggests that people who do things like bite their nails, pick at their skin, and pull at their hair do so not because they’re nervous but because they’re inherently perfectionists. People that bite their nails are more likely to be bored, more likely to be unable to sit calmly in a room, and more likely to become frustrated than their non-nail biting counterparts. In short, nail biting, etc makes a perfectionist feel like they’re getting something done.

2. Nose Picking….And Booger Eating

While simple nose picking is easily explained (these boogies are clogging my nostrils and I don’t have a tissue), booger eating carries with it a whole host of judgements from society and even the psychiatric community. Scientists who study obsessive compulsive disorder have found that, among populations of psychotic persons, there was a correlation between nose picking and the motive to self mutilate.

There’s just one problem with this kind of study though, 91% of people interviewed in other studies admit to picking their noses and sometimes eating what they’ve found there. So where is the line drawn? You’re only suffering from a psychological condition, it seems, if you spend circa one to two hours a day engaging in the practice and maybe even mutilate your nose in the process. This group of people suffers from what’s known as rhinotillexomania, which I hope I am never asked to pronounce, and are in a category outside your every day American nostril cleaner.

But why do people do this? Well, outside the realm of obsessive compulsive behaviors, some people simply claim to like the taste and one doctor has even gone so far as claiming that eating your boogers boosts the immune system which might make it an evolutionary development.

“With the finger you can get to places you just can’t reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner. And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body’s immune system. Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do. In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.”


3. Singing In The Shower

This is a habit that almost everyone in the world relates to. According to one survey, three out of five people end up singing once their toes cross the threshold of their shower.

But why the shower? Well, the answer, simply, is tile, alone time, and enclosed space. This results in a sound resonance that you just won’t get in any other room of your home. As a result, you can hear yourself better and your voice has reverb and sounds fuller. Plus there’s no one there to judge you when you want to have a Hootie and the Blowfish throwback Thursday morning.

But going further, these are somewhat superficial reasons. The real question is why do you want to sing when you’re alone at all that would make singing in the shower so much better? Put simply, we sing in order to feel something. Think about it, when are the times you’re most likely to sing when alone. It’s when you’re doing some mundane emotionless task, right? Doing the dishes, cleaning the house, sitting in traffic and, yes, showering, are all essentially mindless. It’s a time when you’re not being stimulated emotionally. In this sense, singing is a kind of talking to yourself in an attempt to create a mood or relive a memory that you’re not being provided with by outside stimuli and, as such, is a kind of imaginary expression.

So while you may think of singing in the shower as an unexplainable oddity, the reasons for it are actually deeply creative and universally expressive.

4. Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is more widespread that you might think but since society tends to see it as a sign of immaturity rather than an acceptable coping mechanism like pen biting  because, y’know, babies do it, it’s talked about less than it might otherwise be. A decidedly non-scientific survey taken on ancient website thumbsuckingadults reveals that nearly two thirds of thumb suckers are female and that the largest category of all thumbsuckers are between the ages of 16-23 with 24-28 being the second highest age group. The tendency tapers off severely after that suggesting that this is either a generational phenomenon or people stop doing it as they get older.

Even more interesting is that nearly 29% of respondents also use a blanket while sucking their thumbs and nearly the same amount, 24% masturbate while sucking their thumbs. This later bit is significant because masturbation is also sometimes considered a coping mechanism in children and can be the reason for compulsive masturbation in adults.

But the simple reason most adult thumb suckers continue to take comfort in the act is simple, their parents didn’t make them stop. It’s not more psychologically odd than other oral habits like it, however, just less common and hidden.

5. Earwax Eating

Bizarrely enough, there’s almost no information available on earwax eating as a phenomena outside of universal ridicule towards those that do it. I would say that it’s along the same lines as picking your nose and eating but according to others (note: not me) earwax is distinctly bitter in taste. The good news is that if you’re one of the few members of the shunned earwax eating population it doesn’t appear to be bad for you.

And earwax is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. So, there’s that. No word from any doctors on whether or not eating the stuff is actually good for you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

About the author

Daniel Hayes

Ask me anything as long as it’s safe for all ages and just fantastically interesting.

More From Thought Catalog