Most individuals have pulled out a grey hair, picked a scab, and even bit a nail, whether or not out of boredom or to alleviate a damaging emotion.
In uncommon instances, this exercise might be accompanied by autocannibalism, wherein an individual could eat that hair, scab, or nail.
Autocannibalism is a psychological well being dysfunction that’s primarily characterised by the compulsion to eat oneself.
It must be famous, nonetheless, that the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Guide of Psychological Issues (DSM-5) doesn’t acknowledge this dysfunction as a diagnosable psychological well being dysfunction.
On this article, we’ll discover the underlying causes of autocannibalism, in addition to the various kinds of autocannibalism and the way they’re handled.
Autocannibalism, also referred to as self-cannibalism or autosarcophagy, is a type of cannibalism that includes the apply of consuming oneself.
Most types aren’t excessive
Most individuals who apply autocannibalism don’t have interaction in excessive self-cannibalism. As an alternative, the extra frequent types embody consuming issues like:
- pores and skin
Many are labeled as body-focused repetitive behaviors
Many sorts of autocannibalism are labeled as body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs).
BFRBs are extra extreme than the passive behavior of biting one’s nails when nervous, for instance. BFRBs are repetitive self-grooming behaviors that may trigger precise injury to the physique.
Some could also be linked to nervousness or despair
They’ll additionally accompany different situations that contain impulse management, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or pica.
Essentially the most critical type of autocannibalism is consuming complete physique elements. Nevertheless, the sort of autocannibalism is so uncommon that little analysis exists on it.
Different psychological well being situations that may be labeled as autocannibalism embody:
- Allotriophagia, also referred to as pica, occurs when an individual eats gadgets that haven’t any dietary worth. These can embody comparatively innocent nonfood gadgets reminiscent of ice or extra dangerous gadgets reminiscent of paint chips.
- Onychophagia is characterised by an uncontrollable urge to eat the nails. Not like the anxious behavior of nail-biting, this situation causes appreciable injury to the fingernails.
- Dermatophagia is characterised by consuming the pores and skin on the fingers or arms. This condition is extra critical than merely selecting at a hangnail, and it typically results in pores and skin that’s broken and bleeding.
- Trichophagia, or Rapunzel syndrome, occurs when an individual feels compelled to eat their very own hair. Since hair can’t be digested, this will result in blockages or infections within the digestive tract.
If left untreated, autocannibalism can result in scarring, infections, and in some instances, extreme problems that will trigger demise.
Autocannibalism can develop as a facet impact of sure psychological well being situations or as a secondary behavior on account of an unmanaged BFRB.
Indicators of autocannibalism could differ relying on the sort and severity of the dysfunction. These embody:
Harm to the physique
All sorts of autocannibalism could cause injury to the physique, reminiscent of:
- nerve injury
- an infection
Autocannibalism can even trigger accompanying gastrointestinal signs, together with:
- abdomen ulcers
- blood within the stool
- blockages or injury to the GI tract
Anxiousness or misery
Autocannibalism could also be accompanied by emotions of hysteria or misery earlier than, throughout, and after the compulsion.
An individual could expertise emotions of hysteria or stress that may solely be eased by the compulsion. They may additionally really feel pleasure or aid after the compulsion, in addition to embarrassment or disgrace due to the dysfunction.
Though there’s little analysis on the precise causes of autocannibalism, the underlying causes of BFRBs could relate to people who trigger autocannibalism. They embody:
- Genetics. Analysis means that there’s an inherited part to the event of BFRBs. It’s advised that having a member of the family with a BFRB could improve your danger of growing an analogous situation.
- Age. Some situations that trigger autocannibalism usually tend to seem in childhood. For instance, one
case studydescribes a situation known as Lesch-Nyhan syndrome (LNS), which seems round age 1 with signs of autocannibalism.
- Feelings. A wide range of feelings are regarded as underlying triggers for BFRBs. In a single
small study, researchers discovered that boredom, frustration, and impatience performed a major position in triggering BFRBs within the examine group.
- Psychological sickness. There are solely a handful of case research on the situation. For instance, one
case studystories autocannibalism in a 29-year-old particular person with a historical past of psychosis and substance misuse.
Whereas there’s a connection between sure BFRBs and autocannibalism, extra analysis is required on the underlying causes of this situation.
With so little analysis on autocannibalism, the remedy choices for this situation rely totally on people who have discovered to be efficient for BFRBs.
These remedy choices embody remedy, medicine, and various therapies.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a kind of psychotherapy that’s efficient for psychological well being situations reminiscent of nervousness, despair, and BFRBs.
One of these remedy focuses on how your ideas have an effect on your behaviors and moods and the right way to regulate these ideas and beliefs in a constructive manner.
Behavior reversal coaching (HRT), a subset of CBT, could show useful for particular situations like autocannibalism.
With HRT, the main focus is on digging deeper into altering habits which may be troublesome or harmful. In a single
When autocannibalism accompanies an underlying psychiatric dysfunction reminiscent of nervousness or OCD, medicine can be utilized together with remedy.
It may take a while to search out the correct medicine and dosage in your actual situation, so good communication and follow-up together with your physician is necessary.
Whereas CBT and drugs are the simplest remedy for situations like autocannibalism, some folks select to include various therapies.
Analysis has advised that mindfulness may also help scale back emotions of stress and nervousness by bringing the thought course of again to the current.
For folks with autocannibalism, working towards conscious strategies could assist to cut back compulsions.
All these therapies have additionally been thought to offer extra therapeutic advantages, however extra analysis remains to be wanted.
Autocannibalism is a psychological well being situation characterised by the apply of consuming elements of oneself, reminiscent of pores and skin, nails, and hair.
Most individuals with autocannibalism produce other underlying psychological well being situations, reminiscent of OCD or nervousness.
Autocannibalism can negatively have an effect on one’s bodily well being if left untreated, particularly in situations reminiscent of allotriophagia and trichophagia.
The primary line of remedy for autocannibalism and BFRBs is CBT and, if essential, medicine.
With the correct assist and a stable remedy plan, the outlook for this situation is constructive.