This email has been sitting in my inbox for ages and I thought it was very kind of this reader to share his story. Sorry Steve for taking so long on this.
A brief update on my nails is that they are waxing and waning like the tide but not from my biting, only the clippers. My intentions to grow them back towards the knuckle seem to not be working or taking a real long time but we shall see. I will admit, I have given up on my right pointer finger and bite the hell out of that one to make sure I do not abuse the other ones. My right thumb nail is incredibly sharp and picking my nose with my pinkys sometimes gives me a bloody nose.
I have attached 4 photos of my own hands / nails taken a few days ago. Comparing them to your photos it seems we have differently shaped hands and nails so the shape of the bitten part is also very different. For the first time I noticed that the nails on my right hand seem shorter than my left. I puzzled a while but then realised that as I am left handed my right hand is more often free to have its nails bitten – weird that I never spotted this before.
My mother also said that I was biting my nails from a very early age and that she tried all sorts of methods to make me stop. I remember as a 6 or 7 year old being send to bed with gloves tied on at the wrist, and later dad binding my fingernails with sticky tape each night. The only time I have seen my nails as they could / should be was when I broke my elbow when I was 16 in a fall playing tennis. The arm was in an angled plaster cast for 6 weeks and I could just not reach my nails to bite them. As soon as the cast was off those perfectly formed full length nails were ripped off!
For me having no nails is normal. My family and friends have stopped even mentioning my habit and no longer try to get me to stop. There is something uniquely pleasant about having smooth ends to my fingers and something especially rewarding about having my teeth defeat an obstinate rough edge of nail. Odd to admit but I enjoy biting my nails – it’s a kind of daily challenge to keep them short and make them shorter.
Looking back at what I have written I realise that’s the first time I have thought more deeply about my habit. I’d be interested to hear what you think about yours and whether, indeed, you have defeated it.