Did you re-start sucking your thiumb as an adult?
October 7, 2004 1:25 PM   Subscribe

Adult thumb sucking (more inside)...

From age 4-11, I sucked my thumb constantly, morning and night. The only thing that got me to stop was 4 years of braces, which I had through Middle School. Since I quit, I have never had the desire to do it again...until recently.

For the past month, I keep fighting the urge to pop my thumb back in my mouth, but I've been withstanding so that I don't mess-up my teeth again. So, basically I'm wondering if anyone - who was a childhood thumb-sucker - has started again in your adult years, and what was the impetus to start?
posted by naxosaxur to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
but I've been withstanding so that I don't mess-up my teeth again.

I'm not a dentist, but I think you were told that as a child because it would stop you sucking your thumb. Braces and thumb sucking aren't related, AFAIK... I could be wrong, though. I'm not a dentist.
posted by shepd at 1:56 PM on October 7, 2004

I was a constant thumb sucker as a child -- I got sent to the principal's office for it when I was in kindergarten, that humiliation scarred me for life but didn't get me to quit. As I grew older it morphed into nail-biting, especially during daylight hours, but I still slept with a finger in or around my mouth constantly. I quit pretty much cold turkey a few years ago during a month and a half of living in the most disgusting conditions imaginable (oil and human waste fires), and really only regress now when I'm very, very tired or hungry in a dieting too long type of way. I don't think it will give me braces again, but I know now that it's not great as far as not getting sick goes, and bitten fingernails just aren't very grown-up looking. So I chew some gum, or fill my belly, or maw the back of my hand, or do anything to keep from getting in that habit again because it's so hard to stop. The reasons for the habit never really go away, I just try hard to redirect them.
posted by dness2 at 2:12 PM on October 7, 2004

shepd, thumb sucking really screwed up my teeth. The contant pressure on my dental plate from the thumb shifted my teeth greatly. I had very 'buck teeth' from thumb sucking, and it took four years of braces to correct it, which is something i certainly don't want to revisit. My parents never ever tried to make me stop or even called attention to it in the least. dness2, that's so true re: finger-sucking and sickness. Even as a child I knew that my thumb sucking was culprit to frequent sickness. Now I chew gum constantly, too, but sometimes i just want the comfort of thumb sucking.

Also, i'm curious to know what non-thumb suckers think of adults who do this: do you think it's repulsive or weird?
posted by naxosaxur at 2:32 PM on October 7, 2004

I still bite my nails as a result of a mild oral fixation- I absolutely hate gum so I rarely chew it, instead destroying all the pen caps in my house.

I'm considering getting one of those stop-smoking hypnosis tapes (it worked for me once for dieting) and seeing if I can streamline it into oral fixations in general. Might be a good option.

I would also recommend sleeping on your stomach with your hands under your pillow. If you stop doing it subconsciously it might help stopping it while awake.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:50 PM on October 7, 2004

I sucked my thumb until I was 10, and only stopped then because of the metal installed into my mouth to fix all the damage my thumb did. I had a large overbite and a narrowed upper jaw because of that thumb.

And while I have not picked the habit back up in my adult life, I have put the thumb back into my mouth once or twice: mostly to remember why I did it. Sure enough, it was one of the most comforting things I could remember doing in a long time. My husband was 300% weirded out by it, so I haven't done it since.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:04 PM on October 7, 2004

I was also a compulsive thumb-sucker as a child. My mother tried everything to make me stop - remember the bitter-tasting polish? I grew to like it. I even remember needing to switch to the backup thumb when my main sucking thumb was sliced open and bandaged for a few weeks.

I somehow quit; but now find myself unconsiously trying to slip it back in at strange times. I can't find a trigger - sometimes when I am feeling very comfortable and safe, sometimes when I'm really stressed. I don't know what causes it.
posted by dual_action at 3:36 PM on October 7, 2004

Also, i'm curious to know what non-thumb suckers think of adults who do this: do you think it's repulsive or weird?

I hate to be, uh, intolerant, but yeah. That's just dirty, man.

and that's coming from me!

actually, I think nail biting is more disgusting than thumb sucking. EEEWWW. eew. it grosses me out just thinking about it.

i suppose i should be thankful.
posted by fishfucker at 3:50 PM on October 7, 2004

Naxosaxur, I think people who bother to read and answer here tend to be open-minded and would not be repulsed by this behavior -- perhaps curious, amused, or puzzled, classifying it as an eccentricity. But without a doubt, many others would judge and mock this, because people like to denigrate others' weirdnesses while conveniently ignoring their own.

So, there are habits you restrain out of social politesse and a desire not to physically or emotionally damage yourself. The woman who compulsively cuts her fingernails in the cube behind me has got to be destroying her cuticles and making them more prone to infection. More important to me, she's driving me barking mad with that harsh clicking sound every morning. I don't care if she does her freaky thing in her cube, but I don't want to hear it, or see it. And I don't want anyone to see or hear my freaky thing as part of my fulfillment of the social contract, clause 17, don't freak anyone out who hasn't explicitly agreed to embrace your every weirdness.

So, obviously, never do this in public, never do this without washing hands thoroughly, and never do this if you think you can't control the time you spend doing it without hurting your teeth. But don't feel bad about it, either. Remember that everyone has their little odd habits to comfort themselves, and if you can keep this one in your control, and it gives you happiness and relief, well, it's not exactly an opium habit, is it? It's your little private quirk that gives you peace, and barring an unfortunate and unlikely accident, it's one that will always be cheaply available to you.
posted by melissa may at 3:53 PM on October 7, 2004

I bite my thumb as a nervous habit. I don't know how to stop it though.
posted by corpse at 4:05 PM on October 7, 2004

I have to vote for "very weird and kinda creepy", but I have something of an oral fixation myself: chewing on things. Random things. Pens, small toys, toothpicks. Basically, anything plasic and choking-hazzard sized.
posted by bob sarabia at 6:26 PM on October 7, 2004

I bite my thumb as a nervous habit. I don't know how to stop it though.

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

Seriously, I used to suck my thumb until I got braces, and after wearing them for years I still have an overbite. I haven't gone back to thumbsucking, but I always have to have something in my hand when I'm talking to people who aren't close friends. I had to completely cut clickey-pens from my life, and I compusively click the mouse button when I'm reading anything on the computer.
posted by Eamon at 6:55 PM on October 7, 2004

While it does strike me as slightly unhygenic, I don't think I'd consider it creepy, though maybe a little weird. I remembered running across this a while back when browsing everything2 in a bored mood (now that is a disturbing and unnatural (but also sort of addictive) habit), perhaps it'll be of use to you.
posted by fvw at 7:09 PM on October 7, 2004

My mother rode me about thumb sucking, and I learned a substitute: I park my thumb next to my mouth. Funny thing, over the years I forgot it was about sucking my thumb, and I still tend to do it.

Happens that its a habit I find highly attractive in a guy, although rarely seen. Never thought of its being unhygenic, but then, I suppose one would get all kinds of germs on one's thumb, from one's mouth. Maybe even a bit the other way around.
posted by Goofyy at 11:09 PM on October 7, 2004

and I compusively click the mouse button when I'm reading anything on the computer

hey, me too! we should start a club.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:16 PM on October 7, 2004

I compusively click the mouse button when I'm reading anything on the computer.

me three! do you highlight random chunks quickly also, like i do?
posted by rhapsodie at 12:12 AM on October 8, 2004

(that should be "text chunks")
posted by rhapsodie at 12:12 AM on October 8, 2004

I'm always selecting and dragging random text chunks about when i'm browsing as well! I thought i was the only freakin weirdo who did that. Really pisses me off when i think about what i'm doing, but most of the time i don't even realise it.

BTW my girlfriend sucks her thumb occasionally. When i ask her about it she says she does it when she feels comfortable and relaxed
posted by derbs at 6:36 AM on October 8, 2004

thank you all for your supportive input...
posted by naxosaxur at 9:02 AM on October 8, 2004

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