Everyone has an odd quirk or two that they think applies only to them. We hate to break it to you but, according to science, you aren't special. Every small tic or strange habit or pet peeves that anyone has are actually scientifically documented conditions, with widespread sufferers and often devastating results. So read on, and have fun playing House as you diagnose yourself and your friends with these afflictions. Such as ...
You're standing over a stall at a sporting event, about to open the pipes when you hear the horn that signals halftime. As you hear feet shuffling outside, the pipes are suddenly frozen. Someone swaggers in and decides to choose the urinal directly next to you. You know he can hear the deafening silence coming from your urinal, which just makes you panic more. Soon, the restroom is full of relaxed streams of urine. A line of men forms behind you while you begin coughing uncomfortably.
"Everyone's peeing but me. Everyone's peeing but me!"
Whether you're the guy at the urinal or the guy in line wondering why he's quietly pleading with his penis, if you're familiar with this scenario, you're far from the only one. It's called paruresis, the scientific term for pee-shyness (or "stage fright" or "stall stalling" or "pissterical dryness" or whatever it's called in your circle). People with this condition are unable to urinate in the presence of others, real or imaginary. Paruresis is more common in men, but it is not completely unheard of in women. Seven percent of the public, or roughly 17 million people, have claimed to feel the icy cold grip of paruresis clamp down on their junk at some point in their lives.
Not as terrible as the warm fuzzy grip of a spider down there -- but worse.
In the most severe cases, paruresis sufferers are only able to pee in their own homes when they know that they are completely alone -- and some even have to resort to the use of catheters to lure out the elusive stream. Paruresis becomes especially problematic in drug testing situations, which is why it has now become accepted as a valid reason not to participate in drug testing in the United Kingdom. Likewise, in the U.S., the recognition of paruresis as a legitimate medical condition has led to it becoming a valid reason for being excused from jury duty.
"Stand up and pee right now or justice cannot be done!"
People with paruresis often need to enlist the help of psychologists, therapists and support groups to help them get over their affliction. One of the most popular treatments is called graduated exposure therapy, which is said to help eight out of every 10 paruresis sufferers who try it. There are several steps to the treatment. The first is to enlist the help of a person whose friendship you don't mind losing, and having them gradually stand closer and closer to you every time you visit the restroom. When you either stop being friends or fall wildly in love (the only two options), you can then alternately make a ranked list of pee destinations -- ranging from easiest to pee at to most difficult -- and gradually working your way up the list.
Onychophagia, one of the most common medical conditions in the world, is the scientific term for nail biting, which, best-case-scenario, is a bad habit that you grow out of and, worst-case-scenario, will destroy your life if that one episode of Rocko's Modern Life is to be believed.
Cartoon wallabies aren't the only ones biting their nails to life-altering lengths. About 45 percent of people between the ages of 10 and 18 suffer (more men than women), as well as some of our biggest and sparkliest celebrities, including Britney Spears, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Eva Mendes. Also Phil Collins.
Nail-biting can have devastating and disgusting effects if it becomes too severe. Irreparable damage can be caused to the sufferer's cuticles if nothing is done about the condition. It can also harm teeth, and has been shown to transfer bacteria from around your body into your mouth. Cases have been reported of people transferring pinworms from the anus to the mouth by nail biting. Along with bad cuticles, gross teeth and ass worms in your mouth, nail biting also can affect a person's employability, self-esteem and social interactions. In effect, your harmless little habit could lead you to become homeless, alone and dead. And ass-worm mouthed. Or worse.
You could be Phil Collins.
Fortunately, there are dozens of treatments available to cure what ails you. Doctors may recommend aversion therapy to help stop your cuticle chomping ways, like a gross-tasting nail polish to discourage yourself from putting your nails in your mouth.
In the Netherlands, a former health industry and cosmetics promoter has invented a treatment for onychophagists. For the low, low price of $670, Alain-Raymond van Abbe will fashion his patients a protective mouth guard to help stop the biting.
"Society, here I come!"
When these measures are not enough, some doctors suggest either hypnotherapy or behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy utilizes habit reversal training to help identify the urges (nail-biting), and replace them with something more constructive (literally anything). Another common treatment is wearing a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it every time you attempt to bite your nails.
Now if only there was a therapy to discourage wearing those stupid rubber bands.