Self-cannibalism is the practice of eating oneself, also called autocannibalism [ [ "Man-eaters: The Evidence for Coastal Tupi Cannibalism" "mei(sh) dot org"] ] , or autosarcophagy [ [ National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) PubMed] ] . A similar term which is applied differently is "autophagy", which specifically denotes the normal process of self-degradation by cells. Whilst almost an exclusive term for this process, autophagy nonetheless has occasionally made its way into more common usage [ [ Benecke, Mark "First report of non-psychotic self-cannibalism (autophagy), tongue splicing and scar patterns (scarification) as an extreme form of cultural body modification in a Western civilization"] ] .

elf-cannibalism among humans

As a natural occurrence

A certain amount of self-cannibalism occurs unwittingly, as the body consumes dead cells from the tongue and cheeks.Ingesting one's own blood from an unintentional lesion such as a nose-bleed or an ulcer is clearly not intentional harvesting and consequently not considered cannibalistic.

Catabolisis is also sometimes described as "self-cannibalism." Fact|date=February 2007

As a disorder or symptom thereof

Fingernail-biting that develops into fingernail-eating is a form of pica. Other forms of pica include the compulsion of eating one's own hair (also trichophagia and Rapunzel syndrome), which can form a hairball (trichobezoar) in the stomachOr|date=May 2008.

As a choice

Some people will engage in self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modification, for example eating their own skin. [See Benecke above.] Others will drink their own blood, a practice called autovampirism [ [ NCBI PubMed] ] but sucking blood from wounds is generally not seen to be cannibalism. Placentophagy may be a form of self-cannibalism.On January 13, 2007, Chilean artist Marco Evaristti hosted a dinner party for his most intimate friends. The main meal was agnolotti pasta, which was topped with a meatball made from the artist's own fat, removed earlier in the year in a liposuction operation [" [,23599,21052655-13762,00.html Artist Cooks meal in own Body Fat] ", January 13, 2007] .

As a crime

Forced self-cannibalism as a form of torture or war crime is not uncommon. Erzsébet Báthory forced some of her servants to eat their own flesh. [ [ Adams, Cecil "Did Dracula really exist?" "The Straight Dope'] ] In the 16th Century, Spanish colonizers forced natives to eat their own testicles. [ [ Miguel A. De La Torre, "Beyond Machismo: A Cuban Case Study" (citing Diana Iznaga, "Introduction" to Fernando Ortiz, "Los negros curros" (La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1986) xviii-xix.)] ] Incidents were reported in the years following the 1991 coup in Haiti. [ [ Chin, Pat. "Behind the Rockwood case" "Workers World", April 6, 1996] ] In the 1990s young people in Sudan were forced to eat their own ears. [ [ "Lambeth Daily News" 6 August 1998] ]

One famous case of self-cannibalism is the Armin Meiwes trial. One of the persons involved, Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, had hoped to engage in self-cannibalism before being cannibalized himself, although it is unclear if he actually did soFact|date=May 2008.

elf-cannibalism among animals

The short-tailed cricket is known to eat its own wings. [Taber, Stephen Welton (2005) "Invertebrates Of Central Texas Wetlands", page 200.] Mice may eat their own tails if they are starving. Fact|date=December 2007 Ant queens are known to eat their wings and flight muscles after they start a colony. Fact|date=December 2007 There is evidence of certain animals digesting their own nervous tissue when they transition to a new phase of life. The sea squirt (with a tadpole-like shape) contains a ganglion 'brain' in its head, which it digests after attaching itself to a rock and becoming stationary, forming an anenome-like organism. This has been used as evidence that the purpose of brain and nervous tissue is primarily to produce movement.

Cultural references

*Stephen King's short story "Survivor Type", about a man trapped on a small island.
*Ryan, Alan (1984) "The Bones Wizard", "Whispers".
*Roger, Frank, "The Implosion of a Gastrocrat: an Experiment in Autophagy".
*In the manga "One Piece" the character Zeff eats his own foot while marooned on an island after a storm that destroyed his ship. However in the anime version he just cut off his leg with an anchor during the storm to save himself and Sanji from drowning.
*In the novel "Hannibal", Hannibal Lecter recalls psychologically manipulating a Mason Verger into eating his own nose and feeding his face to his dog. In the course of the novel Lecter also feeds part of a man's brain to that man.
*In issue #5 of the Marvel Comic "Livewires", Stem Cell ate most of her own skin so that she could use it as base material for constructing her Pyronano "babies". Afterwards, she considered adopting "Autocannibal" as her name.
*In the original book "The Queen of the Damned", the twin sisters Maharet and Mekare are punished for refusing to help Akasha. Mekare's tongue is cut out and Maharet's eyes are removed. Both women then ingest the parts.
*Rammstein's song "Mein Teil" is about Armin Meiwes (see above) and his victim, who supposedly shared a meal made out of the victim's genitals.
*Autopsy's song "Severed Survival" is about resorting to self-cannibalism after being stranded on a barren island.
*In the computer game Zork, the command "eat self" returns the message "Autocannibalism is not the answer".
*In the movie Spaceballs, one character named Pizza the Hutt (a parody of Jabba the Hutt) is revealed to have eaten himself to death while locked in his car with no other food sources.
* The short story "The Savage Mouth" by Japanese science fiction writer Sakyo Komatsu deals with self-cannibalism.

ee also

*Sexual cannibalism


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