Famous Self-Injurers.
April 10, 2002 10:43 AM   Subscribe

Famous Self-Injurers. "Johnny [Depp] has a series of seven or eight scars on his left forearm where he has cut himself with a knife on different occasions to commemorate various moments or rights of passage in his life ... 'It was really just whatever [times when he hurt himself]--good times, bad times, it didn't matter. There was no ceremony. It wasn't like "Okay, this just happened, I have to go hack a piece of my flesh off"' ... 'My body is a journal in a way.'" On this website are accounts self-afflicted injuries from Fiona Apple, Richey Edwards, Christina Ricci and more.
posted by moz (18 comments total)
injury porn. I'd put this up there with the pro-ana sites. Self-harm as beautiful expression.

See! Famous People Did it!
posted by th3ph17 at 11:04 AM on April 10, 2002

I hate this double standard. Oh sure they can cut themselves, but when I go out and slice celebrities, they always get mad.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:05 AM on April 10, 2002

RJ, haha.. thats funny. so much for me posting something, i can't stop chuckling.
posted by tomplus2 at 11:10 AM on April 10, 2002

Shirley Manson has a low self-esteem and hates the way she looks. In a 1998 Select interview she said, "I feel disgusting. I could take a knife to my throat for the way I look. Can someone just put a bin or a bag or a fucking bomb on my head?"

We hereby call on Yasser Arafat to renounce Manson, or else a bunch of Garbage fans are going to bleed to death in the streets.
posted by ssdecontrol at 11:14 AM on April 10, 2002

Fiona Apple, Richey Edwards, Christina Ricci and Depp...

throw in Traci Lords and Iggy Pop and it reads like the cast of the next John Waters film.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2002

I don't know: my first instinct was to say "How horrible!", but then I thought about the current rage for body piercing and tattooing among young people. I guess it's just a fact that some people use their own skins as a canvas for art -- some might take it a little far for my taste, but who am I to judge?

On the other hand, there's some guy (can't find the URL, sorry) who's trying to turn himself into a tiger or something. He's had whiskers surgically implanted in his face, fangs cemented to his real teeth, and has ornate stripe-tattoos on his body. That guy scares me a little. As does this guy, who looks less like a real human being with every day that goes by.
posted by mrmanley at 11:39 AM on April 10, 2002

I thought this was called self-mutilation.
posted by NortonDC at 11:41 AM on April 10, 2002

That tiger dude is fucked up. He was in Stuff a few months back. I got a few tats (ok, more than a few), but damn.
posted by adampsyche at 11:42 AM on April 10, 2002

Like the title says - they're injuring themselves. On purpose. It's disturbing and sad to read these stories - they're cutting themselves out of self-loathing or to punish themselves for something.

Body modification takes all sorts of forms, like piercing and tatooing, boob jobs and botox injections, calf implants, even decorative scarification (that link is not work safe, and note that I am not endorsing scarification), and some of them are considered real art forms.

It's one thing when you just want to express yourself in some offbeat way, or improve the way you see or feel about yourself, but to have to go "hack a piece of flesh off" because something bad happened on the set that day is something else altogether. Great link, moz.
posted by iconomy at 11:51 AM on April 10, 2002

on the garbage website (yes, i am a garbage fan), shirley talked about how fans (mostly teenage girls) have written in to her saying that after hearing her talk about self-mutilation in interviews helped them to admit it to themselves and seek help.

so, yeah, for every fan that decides it's "cool" to do it because their idol did, there are probably quite a few who may get help.

my sister used to do this sort of thing, but luckily she eventually grew out of it. with no help from my parents, of course, since they didn't know about it and were the primary cause of it! not that there is something inherently wrong with scarring yourself, it's just the fact that usually it's a sign of something other than that being wrong, like depression or a deep self hatred, etc.
posted by witchstone at 1:38 PM on April 10, 2002

i picked a scab so long it scarred, does that count ?
posted by zeoslap at 2:06 PM on April 10, 2002

Ugh. This is truly sick. And some of them, Christina Ricci for example found relaxation and some sort of... peace by mutilating themselves. Quite the sick individuals, but, to each their own I suppose.
posted by spidre at 2:11 PM on April 10, 2002

As someone who has had numerous episodes of "self-injury" (yes, more commonly called "self-mutilation", but that's more extreme sounding), I can relate to alot of what's on this page.

I have several very prominent scars on my upper left arm, and many more cross-hatches and other patters on various parts of my body, some of which are relatively fresh, others which have faded almost to nothing over the course of time.

For those of you who've never been there, its not something you do for kicks, or get pleasure out of. The times I've scarred myself have usually been at moments of intense psychological pain and despair. There's not really any whimsical, "gee, I think I'll go carve my arm"; its much more of a need, almost a compulsion to hurt yourself, to make a mark, to experience pain.

I've never figured out if its to take my mind off of the my psychological pain with physical pain, or to somehow punish myself, or what ever other reason may be that I feel that way from time to time. But I know that I usually feel very guilty and have intense sensations of self-loathing afterwards. I *know* I'm going to hate myself when I do it, but I feel as though I need to, anyway.

It had been a while since I'd self-injured, untill this New Years. I was at a party at a friends house, and had a fight with my girlfriend; she told me she was leaving me. I responded by drinking heavily and laughing hysterically with my friends in the back yard for a while. Eventually, this passed and a deep, black despair started coming over me. I knew what I had to do... I went to a quiet corner of the back yard, pulled out my leatherman, and... well. At work on Tuesday, I came up with the story that I'd gotten a little rowdy on New Years and got into a fairly bad tangle with a barbed wire fence. My arm looked rough. But there had been no consideration of it, no thoughts of "it would be fun to make myself bleed", or "i'm miserable, I'll go cut myself". Just a sudden determination in my mind that right then, right there, the pain of my flesh slicing open, and the warm of blood running down my arm, was what I needed.

Afterwards, my friends cleaned me up and comforted me. I hated myself for doing it, but it was right at the time. Definitely an unpleasant, illogical compulsion. But what are you going to do?

posted by jammer at 2:12 PM on April 10, 2002

While many people are quick to judge this behavior as sick or merely attention-getting, self injuring can sometimes be a sort of reset button. By that I mean that people who are suffering extreme emotional states can at times become dissociated, which means that basically the normal internal dialogues we carry on in our heads just stops. You could almost say there is no "I" there to say, "I am doing this, I am thinking this, I am feeling this." For anyone who's been in a dissociative state, it's almost like going into a trance or blacking out. You might do things you don't remember. Self injury can jolt your mind (albeit via pain or the shock of seeing blood) back into its normal dialogue. It can break the fugue.

I'm not suggesting this as the best option—clearly anyone suffering from dissociation or urges to harm themselves should seek help. But just writing people off as sick or crazy hardly helps the sense of alienation that is often part of the problem in the first place.
posted by gutenberg at 2:23 PM on April 10, 2002

i agree that often in western culture, cutting is an activity that often can indicate past histories of abuse, psychological troubles, etc., but i think we can also say that self-injury/cutting *can* and does play a different (and often, religiously/ ritualistically important) role in non-western cultures.

that said, i haven't seen a ton of people get into scarification or self-injury as it's practiced in other cultures, though I do know a couple people who've had cuttings (and watched one being done -- looked pretty ouchy).

the results on skin lacking a lot of melanin aren't that great, which is why one might not see more of it, but hell, seems like *everyone* has their ears stretched nowadays (most likely by having them cut or punched -- shame on you), so who knows, it might surge in popularity. it seems like dyeing one's hair and getting piercing are standard rites of youth now, although I still thought we'd passed a law against under-18 piercing (regardless of parental consent) here in CA. I truly hope there aren't a bunch of hacks out their trying to pierce from their garages, as there's already a bunch of terribly misinformed piercers working in tat shops, bong stores, etc.

btw, all links should be fairly work safe -- i didn't notice photos on any of them, though the angelfire site has about a million pop-ups.
posted by fishfucker at 2:28 PM on April 10, 2002

There are other ways of dealing with emotional, psychological, and physical pain. Cutting yourself has to definately be one of the worst of them. I would think your average human would be able to procure another way of handling the situation, but, it seems that some cannot.

Now, speaking on other terms, as in doing it just for kicks, as stated in the site of how two girls would carve 'Marilyn Manson' on their chests... I would like someone to explain that. I understand that teenagers do things out of ignorance or just to seem 'cool' sometimes, as I am a teenager, and I see this sort of thing everyday. I am just curious as to what these two gain by doing this...
posted by spidre at 2:38 PM on April 10, 2002


There are other ways of dealing with emotional, psychological, and physical pain. Cutting yourself has to definately be one of the worst of them. I would think your average human would be able to procure another way of handling the situation

these people, of course, are not your average human being; as you say, they suffer from emotional, psychological and physical pain. i would say they suffer an abnormal amount. while it's fine to say that a rational person might choose a healthier course of self-therapy, i think the duress of the pain precludes any assumption of reason.

Now, speaking on other terms, as in doing it just for kicks, as stated in the site of how two girls would carve 'Marilyn Manson' on their chests... I would like someone to explain that.

i would think that there is more to these girls than the desire to scar themselves "just for kicks," but neither you nor i seem well-equipped to answer the question...
posted by moz at 3:01 PM on April 10, 2002

I hate to be the one to reference k5 all the time, but there was a good article about Self-injury posted awhile back. Comments abound.
posted by ODiV at 6:47 PM on April 10, 2002

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