Another issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry features a related article titled Life Threatening Self-Mutilation of the Nose by Salman Akhtar, M.D. and Brian W. Hastings, M.D. (August, 1978, pages 676-677).
A short summary of this research can be found
in the book Strange
Days #2 (p. 24, 1997, Fortean Times and Cader Books, New York).
As you know, this website has always specialized in stories that are a bit unusual. In fact, some are just downright weird. First there was the story on Condoms and Coca-Cola. Then, without hesitation, we gave you the famous Headless Chicken page. And now - you guessed it - we proudly present you with a page devoted to nose-picking.
Now I'm sure that we all know how one goes about picking their nose, so we can skip the step-by-step instructions.
We've all caught someone at sometime picking their nose. Some try to do it in secret. Others do it openly without embarrassment. Maybe even you have been caught in the act.
Nose-picking is one disgusting habit and is certainly not socially acceptable. So, are these people normal?
One would guess that this is not the type of thing researched at our institutions of higher learning.
Believe it or not, there was a study on nose-picking published in February of 1995 in the Journal of Psychiatry. Yes, you read it right - college professors being paid the big bucks to find out who picks their nose.
Of course, scientists must give everyday things complicated scientific names. Nose-picking is a term for us common folk. Nose-picking should really be referred to as rhinotillexomania (rhino=nose, tillexis=habit of picking at something, mania=obsession with something). So, the next time that you see a person picking their nose, tell them that they are a rhinotillexomaniac.
The researchers prepared their "Rhinotillexomania Questionnaire" and randomly mailed it to 1000 residents in Dane County, Wisconsin. Each survey included a cover letter that stated "The University of Wisconsin is conducting a survey of a common but understudied habit scientifically known as 'rhinotillexomania'. Its common name is nose-picking."
Even better, the letter actually defined what nose-picking is: "Insertion of a finger (or other object) into the nose with the intention of removing dried nasal secretions." I'll bet that you already knew that.
Can you imagine getting this survey in the mail? Even with the University's seal on the stationary, one would have to wonder whether this was a joke or not.
Now for the results (assuming that they are reliable):
Of the 1000 surveys mailed out, only 254 were completed and returned to the researchers.
First, we now have positive proof that picking one's nose is almost a universally practiced custom, although most won't admit to it.
Second, boogers apparently taste good, although I can guarantee to you that I will never do the taste testing to find out.
And, lastly, when researchers are devoting money and time to studying the picking habits of the United States, it comes as no surprise that we can't find a cure for cancer or HIV.
Useless? Useful? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
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