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Nose Problem

Question:

I have had this problem all my life (I am 39) – I bother the inside of my nose. I have had two nose operations due to this problem (yes, I am ashamed – several doctors have thought my deviated septum was due to breaking my nose on a diving board when I was 17 – only I knew better) Yes, I should have sought help long ago. I have two wonderful children and a highly supportive husband.. I sit here crying because my beautiful 8 year old daughter came to me with tears in her eyes this morning because she wanted to tell me that her nose was bleeding, for the 2nd time, due to her picking at it. I kissed her, sent her off to school and told her we would work this problem together. I must seek help now for her sake. I do not want her to suffer with this disorder as I have. I can find nothing on this on any web site. I have tried to quit this disorder and have been unsuccessful. She also sucks her thumb at home (not at school) as I did (quit at age 12). She is a 4th generation thumb sucker-we are working on this with gentle methods but have been unsuccessful. I am not nearly as worried about this as I am the nose picking-I do not know where to seek help for both of us…please if you can help me to know where to turn for help…

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Answer:

I know of no “official” diagnosis for the sort of problem you are describing. However, as I read your letter I was reminded of several disorders that sound similar – all of which tend to be categorized as impulse control disorders and/or anxiety/obsessionality disorders (for instance, compulsive hair pulling or Trichotillomania). I suggest that in order to properly address the problem(s) you seek out consultation with two sorts of professionals: a child-focused Behavior Therapist, and a child-focused Psychiatrist. It simply cannot be said why you and your daughter are harming yourselves in this way. However, we don’t need to know how a problem was caused in order to help it. One good way to think about the problem is to view it as a maladaptive habit. Behavior Therapists are doctoral level psychologists who understand (better than any other professional group) how habits develop and how they can be changed. My guess is that a child-oriented behavior therapist may be able to develop a program for both you and your child which can safely reduce or eliminate your families’ nose-digging problem. You can locate a behavior therapist via the web at http://www.aabt.org/CLINICAL/CLINICAL.HTM. I think a consultation with a psychiatrist is also in order because a psychiatrist may have some medications to offer that could reduce compulsive urges so as to help in this healing process. If you pick only one professional to visit, however, make it the Behavior Therapist.

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