What is self-mutilation? Why does it happen?
Self-mutilation is a broad
term for a "complex group of behaviors" resulting in destruction
of one's own tissue. These behaviors, including scratching, burning or
cutting the skin, pulling out hair, breaking bones, amputation , and eye
enucleation, can have a likewise variable assortment of causes. In an
attempt to understand the variability of these behaviors, Favazza
and Roesnthal proposed what is now the commonly accepted method of classifying
self-mutilation. There are three observable categories, based on the degree
of harm, the rate, and the pattern of behavior. These are
In some cases of major self-mutilation,
a schizophrenic or otherwise hallucinatory person will amputate his penis
or otherwise damage her genitals for reasons relating to sexual guilt.
Also, some superficial self-mutilators have claimed to receive sexual
gratification from their wounds. However in most cases of self-mutilation,
this is neither the purpose nor a result.
|©2002 Alexander V. Timofeyev, Katie Sharff, Nora Burns, Rachel Outterson|