History: Though we think of self-mutilation as a new phenomenon–it’s been named “the new age anorexia” by some–the practice has actually been around for a while. All the way back in 496-406 BCE, in Sophocles’ famous play “Oedipus,” the title character blinds himself as punishment for (unknowingly) killing his father and marrying his mother. Self-injury has existed for all of known history. But it wasn’t until 1938 that Karl Menninger proposed that self-injury was a way of trying to soothe oneself. He suggested that “local self-destruction is a form of partial suicide to avert total suicide.”
Types of Self-Mutilation: Cutting is the most common type of self-mutilation, encompassing 72% of self-injurers. Burning and self-hitting are also quite common. Hair pulling, bone breaking and interference with wound healing are other widespread practices.