Body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs) are associated with other habits.
These include behavioural and mental routines commonly observed in OCD.
People who engage in BFRBs are also ‘creatures of habit’ in everyday life.
Such people prefer routine over novelty.
BFRBs should be seen as part of a wider spectrum of subclinical compulsivity.
Theories of body-focused repetitive behaviours (BFRBs), such as nail-biting and skin-picking, have hypothesised that they are caused by a need to regulate negative emotions or an innate ‘grooming urge’. However, such theories fail to explain why performance of BFRBs becomes habitual, and such knowledge could have important implications for cognitive and behavioral therapies. In the present study, using a case-control design, we investigated whether BFRBs represent a more general tendency to behave in a habitual fashion. We recruited two groups of subjects, one group who engaged regularly in BFRBs (N=40) and a control group who did not (N=40). Both groups completed a questionnaire assessing the frequency with which they engage in a wide variety of repetitive behaviours, and the ‘Creature of Habit’ Scale (COHS), which measures the extent to which people behave in a habitual fashion in everyday life. Subjects in the BFRB group reported significantly higher frequency of performance of a wide range of habitual behaviours, including behaviours commonly observed in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as well as significantly higher scores on the COHS. The findings suggest BFRBs should not be treated as an isolated set of grooming behaviours but as part of a wider spectrum of habitual behaviours associated more generally with being a ‘creature of habit’.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Body focused repetitive behaviours, Habits, Compulsivity, OCD, Anxiety