CAUSES: HOLISTIC CAUSES
All through High School, I had beautiful nails and cuticles. It was like people knew me for my fingers. I didn’t start picking my cuticles until college. And it was in college is when I really got involved with a very abusive man.
A common thread through many pickers is the experience of childhood abuse. If you were the victim of abuse, you quite possibly learned this behavior from your abuser.
Remember that abuse can come in many forms: physical to insidious verbal, mental and emotional abuse. Neglect is another form of mistreatment that can result in a lifetime of feeling inadequate and unworthy.
Usually an abusive partner is someone we are close to and have feelings for. If it is a parent or a sibling, there is a strong bond that is difficult to overcome. And if it is another family relative or friends a little more removed, we still may feel that familial bond and guilt.
You take over the job of abuse. The cycle of abuse usually follows into adulthood. If you belong to this group, it is not unusual to turn the abuse back around towards yourself. You swear you would never put anyone else what you went through. Some people even choose not to have children for fear of passing along the abusive tendencies, yet think nothing of taking their abusive feelings out on themselves.
You may have found a partner to continue the abuse you’ve grown accustomed to. You may even abuse yourself as punishment for allowing that to happen. And if you are alone, you still have found a way to abuse yourself by picking at yourself.
Childhood abuse is a very serious subject and numerous books have been written on the subject. If you experienced abuse as a child, I highly suggest that you do the reading and counseling necessary to help you survive and recover. You may find it will help you overcome your picking as a byproduct.
When you think about it, none of us are living the lives that humans really should be living. We are frail little creatures that managed to use our brains and brawn to create this entire civilization that is so far beyond any single individual’s efforts.
Think of it. If civilization ended tomorrow how would you survive? You would make a home in a cave or a simple structure out of branches or whatever materials were available. You would subsist on the food that was readily available for hunting or gathering around where you lived. It would be a simple life based on surviving day to day.
Instead we live in an environment that can put us in a constant state of hyper stimulation, nervousness or anxiety. And when things calm down for a moment – we live in a state of boredom and expectation for the next stimulus. Our nervous systems are taxed beyond our simple human abilities to cope.
So what do we do? We do whatever it take to balance our nerves in whatever way we find acceptable. Some develop habits that are considered acceptable in our culture to keep their live balanced. Others chose ways that are not so socially acceptable. Some people drink or do drugs. Others drive too fast or listen to loud music. We pickers chose a very unique coping mechanism.
Little Girl Disease
My girlfriend is constantly picking her face while she is studying or reading or talking on the phone. Often, the state of her picked face affects our plans — for example, she may not come with me to see my family even though we had planned to go together. When she is particularly self-conscious about it, she forbids me to look at her. She will cover her face with her hand or hair if I am even gazing anywhere near her. It is hard to communicate when I cannot see her face, and it affects our kissing and other intimacy.
I remember going to a dermatologist. And he said well just stop picking at your face and the problem will go away. There was nothing he could do for me – that it was me that was creating the problem.
He told me that French call the disease ‘des Juennes Filles’ or ‘little girls disease’ because it is common in young women in France. It was the first time I had heard this term. The little girls pick at their pimples and cause their complexions to have red blotches with the subconscious purpose of driving away men who would be interested in them for purely sexual reasons. The thought is that when this habit continues into adulthood, it affects women who are afraid of their own sexuality or their ‘womanliness’. In our country anorexia falls into a similar category.
On a related note, there are many ways to react and process the sexual abuse. Any person who has been sexually abused in their childhood may run the risk of becoming a serious picker. If you experienced sexual abuse as a child, I suggest that you do the counseling necessary to help you survive and recover. You may find it will help you overcome your picking as a byproduct.
In any case, it is important to analyze the relationships we have with our parents of the opposite sex. They do affect how we face the world as sexual beings.
One of the triggers for my initial picking habit falls into this category. When my boyfriend broke up with me in my early twenties, I pleaded with him to stay and have sex with me even if we weren’t dating anymore. He out and out rejected me and broke up with me anyways. I realize now that was the beginning of my foray into self mutilation. Here I was a beautiful young woman with a great body and considered reasonably pretty by most men I’d met. And I couldn’t conceive of what had happened. I could not understand a man not wanting to have sex with me. My whole self image started to change and I started to seriously pick at myself.
You may want to look at how comfortable you are being attractive to members of the opposite sex. Are you shooting yourself in the foot by picking at your face. The reasoning is this:
- If your face is broken out and scabby, then why would anyone be attracted to you?
- You know that they would like and you if your skin was clear.
- But your skin is out of your control and can’t be fixed.
- So it’s not your fault that no one is attracted to you.Kind of interesting logic isn’t it? But think about it. It gets you off the hook to look at other real deeper issues that might be hindering your life. You can just blame your skin for all your problems.
Or how about this.
- Your love life with your mate is suffering and sex is rare or non-existent
- So you take out your frustration subconsciously by picking at you face.
- And you figure that the reason your love life sucks is because your face is broken out.
- Who would want to have sex with you when you look so lousy?
So rather than deal with your sadness and anger and rock the boat about your unhappiness in the relationship or quite possibly terminate the relationship, you stay in the relationship and suffer.
Little Girl Disease – Repressive Religious Upbringing
Another potential factor in pickers is a fundamentalist or orthodox religious upbringing. This may lead to repressive feelings about sexuality. In addition growing up in a religious household or community may foster general guilty feelings which encourage self abuse.