Bodies under Siege: Self-mutilation and Body Modification in Culture and Psychiatry

Bodies under Siege: Self-mutilation and Body Modification in Culture and Psychiatry

by Armando R . Favazza M D M P H (Author)


This work analyzes the complex issues surrounding self-mutilation, drawing on case studies from clinical psychiatry and cultural anthropology to show that the phenomenon is deeply embedded culturally, and far more common than is often thought. Although body modification and blood rituals are shown to be common in many religions, rites-of-passage ceremonies, and therapeutic procedures, deviant self-mutilation, the author argues, is a distinct syndrome of impulse dyscontrol beginning in adolescence and often associated with eating disorders. According to the author, up to half of all female chronic self-mutilators have a history of anorexia or bulimia. This edition contains new information on the diagnosis and treatment of self-mutilation; the link between self-mutilation and eating disorders; and new research on the neurotransmitter serotonin, and associated advances in drug therapy.


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More Information

Format: Paperback
Pages: 400
Edition: second edition
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Published: 09 May 1996

ISBN 10: 0801853001
ISBN 13: 9780801853005

Media Reviews
The second edition of the fascinating but gruesome 'Bodies Under Siege' by Armando R. Favazza explores the various ways in which people mutilate their bodies. Favazza explores the historical background and offers insights into how and why people do truly appalling things to their limbs, heads, and genitals. He pleads for understanding for a group of patients who are often seen as bizarre and repellent. --'New Scientist' Some young Americans who go in for body modifications say their motives are spiritual or arise from tribal origins...But Favazza says he thinks there are 'tremendous parallels' between body modification and self-injurious behavior. --'Chicago Tribune' A compendium of cultural and clinical reports of self-mutilation and a summary of what is and what is not known about therapy, the book is a major contribution to both the anthropological and psychiatric literature. I know that having read it I will see my next self-mutilating patient through more insightful and compassionate eyes. --'Journal of Nervous and Mental Disorders' A comprehensive historical, anthropological, ethnological, and clinical account of self-mutilation --'Journal of the American Medical Association ' A successful education of the grim clinical reality of self-mutilation. We will be reading much more about self-mutilative behavior in the coming years, and this book is the place to begin. --'Psychosomatics'
Author Bio
Armando R. Favazza, M.D., is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is a Fellow of both the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Psychiatrists, and is a co-founder of the Society for the Study of Psychiatry and Culture. .