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We curl up in a ball when we feel upset - as a fetus does in utero.

We curl up in a ball when we feel upset – as a fetus does in utero.

An extreme form of closed posture is the fetal position. While it might seem far fetched to expect someone in your company to have this posture, it does occur although in more abbreviated adult acceptable ways. While at an informal party, for example, a women in might find herself hugging her knees at the end of a couch. To her, this feels comfortable, which is why she does it, but it reveals her true emotions. When in a public she is timid and reserved so she curls up in a ball. The abbreviated form of this position, of course, and one that is more acceptable in public is to pull the limbs in closer to the body and across the center-line as in the “self hug”. With age, we learn that taking up the fetal position, like thumb sucking, is not an acceptable way of dealing with our insecurity so we drop the extreme form of the gesture in favour of more subtle cues. Playing with the hair, rolling it around a finger, sucking on it, or a pen, or other oral fixations are also juvenile coping behaviours that become unacceptable, although often still continue, into adulthood.

Sucking on a pen or piece of hair serves as a replacement for a soother.

Sucking on a pen or piece of hair serves as a replacement for a soother.

Nail biting is an oral fixation that replaces thumb sucking and allows the body to burn off nervous energy.

Nail biting is an oral fixation that replaces thumb sucking and allows the body to burn off nervous energy.