Rebecca (and Tom) get the extra credit for coming the closest to the correct definition (Congrats!); actually, I think they figured out the meaning, with a perhaps slight discrepancy in their etymology :) According to a website entitled “Useless Information,” rhinotillexomania comes from “rhino=nose, tillexis=habit of picking at something, mania=obsession with something.” While dictionary.com does not merit it a definition, www.medicinenet.com does.
Once again, Mr. Meltzer receives the credit for enlightening me with regard to rhinotillexomania. He also notes that the University of Wisconsin-Madison has done a study on it, and concludes that “thus man’s knowledge advances, a booger at a time.” This report was, according to “Useless Knowledge,” actually published as “Rhinotillexomania: Psychiatric Disorder or Habit?” by James W. Jefferson, M.D. (Dean Foundation for Health, Research, and Education) and Trent D. Thompson, M.D. (University of Wisconsin Medical School) which appeared in the February, 1995 issue of The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (pages 56-59).
But that’s not all, folks! Just six years later, “A Preliminary Survey of Rhinotillexomania in an Adolescent Sample” was published by Chittaranjan Andrade, M.D., and B. S. Srihari, M.B.B.S., in the same journal!
To learn more, you can find an excellent summary of some of the scholarly works on the subject as well as some good humor at the above “Useless Information” site. You can also find a fascinating (no, really it is!) article, entitled “Self-induced Ethmoidectomy [there’s another medical term for you to figure out, Rebecca!] from Rhinotillexomania,” complete with X-rays (!!), here (unfortunately, the Journal of Clinical Pscych are not available for free on the ‘net, so far as I can find). This is, indeed, too much fun!
One serious thought on all this: while good for my blog, and amusing in a sense, isn’t there something wasteful about putting good research money into all this? As the “Useless Information” aptly concludes, stealing my thought exactly, “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.”