2

votes

Do any other animals self mutilate?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 21, 2012 at 1:48 AM

So Jack's Question made me think of this. Lets move beyond circumcision and look at all the various HG tribes and modern reasons. Some tribes use them as a symbol of status or proof of power (did they do it as individualism? I dunno, maybe someone else does) . In our own culture its a bit different. We usually do it to set ourselves apart. To be seen as an individual. We imagine ourselves to be so much more advanced that these previous tribes, but the fact is our jewelry has just got fancier. We still mutilate/pierce and tattoo the same areas to single ourselves out. Is this a sentient practice alone? Is there any other animal that does this? Why would we evolve this particular compunction ...or is it society that has bred it?

EDIT: The most used custom/mutilation that we enforce is women ear piercing. It is sometimes done at an extremely young age to avoid "pain" and in the assumption it would occur later. Are we not "barbaric" animals? As Travis states....unlike him I would embrace a portion of barbarism in the frame of MMA type activity, but that is beyond what I am asking.....Why? Even as the untrasophisticated people that we are do we mutilate our womens ears and so on?

D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on January 21, 2012
at 04:43 AM

Eh...mutilation I guess I can go with, but self-mutilation? Mom to kid, and inadvertent? I can't justify the term self-mutilation there. Even mutilation implies deliberate or knowing action to me...at least in my case, I don't consider my gluten consumption and resulting nearsightedness and bad teeth to rise to 'mutilation'...tattoos, piercings, and branding I will happily claim, though.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 21, 2012
at 03:23 AM

That's interesting to bring up; I wonder if we tattoo ourselves for the same reasons as a tribal member does. To mark a milestone, to prove we can handle pain, to differentiate ourselves from the rest of our community. I have heard that tattooing can become almost addictive. Maybe some of us get tattoos just to feel that pain and know we are alive.?? As a woman, it was a total right of passage to get my ears pierced when I was 12. Really made me feel like a badass, and then a woman. In that order.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 21, 2012
at 03:18 AM

...which I have seen in person.

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 21, 2012
at 03:12 AM

Yes, I think it is. Also, a right of passage of sorts.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 21, 2012
at 03:06 AM

Self assessment: I have 2 tattoos but no piercings.....ingrained in me was piercings are for women....the tats are both easily concealed in day to day life, but fairly large (back and upper arm). My own reasons: Family...my father got one with me and my brother got the other one....Wrestler...Instill a bit of fear (lets face it big Tats seem to prove you can take some pain)....Thats about max disclosure on my persona....just to put it out there...I know many/(all?) women are peirced just cause.......so why are we so keen on this ...bonds?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:58 AM

Is ear piercing not mutilation?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:56 AM

I do have my own theories on self inflicted pain though...and I don't think its always a negative/death with sort of thing.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:54 AM

You bring up a good point thatkate...but for the purposes of this site I'm gonna try to keep it to one-three questions at a time.....So no, self inflicted pain isn't currently on the list.

737471a5bc1c8b81d968c3f3fcd13b71

(389)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:32 AM

Thank ya kindly. I'd also like to clarify that by hormonal upset, I'm speaking mainly of nutritional deficiencies and the presence of anti-nutrients, both caused however indirectly by agriculturalism.

737471a5bc1c8b81d968c3f3fcd13b71

(389)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:29 AM

Are you also wondering about purposely causing pain to ourselves, as with flagellation and cutting, or are you only concerned with ornamentation and status symbols for the purposes of this question?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:16 AM

I love your vast wikapedia search...lol...thats cool. Your last remark is actually awesome though! +1 fo sho.

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5 Answers

5
34b560c8b9ce660d7839fb7e29d7be89

on January 21, 2012
at 02:26 AM

Other animals do self-mutilate although it's generally-maybe strictly?-seen in captive animals. Birds will pluck feathers, canine OCD sufferers, etc. I think the important distinction is whether they do it for purposes of ornamentation like humans tend to. I doubt it, in fact ornamentation and art in general may be indicative of higher thinking. The motivation for humans can be to set one apart from others, peacocking or the opposite, group conformity for the purposes of identifying oneself with a particular group. It may also be performed as visible evidence of status, as in the scars from performing the Sun Dance in Native American plains culture.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:22 AM

I don't see how mutilating and piercing works "to single ourselves out". It's more like inking to belong to the inking tribe, all alike. (I think if you want to stand out, do it with fashion so that when everybody has the same sneakers and no one stands out, you can move on to something else.) I think humans are so adaptable that mutilating is useful for group identification.

2
93ae9f2d376e5426e891a9b58d8302fa

(2936)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:19 AM

I would consider carb-induced Neolithic disorders to be self-mutilation. I.e., nearsightedness and crooked teeth among people whose mothers ate wrong during pregnancy. That's self-mutilation of the lineage. Ever since that little brat Eve picked an apple when her mama told her to collect delicious snakes, and convinced her boyfriend that veggies were cool, we been going downhill ever since then.

D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on January 21, 2012
at 04:43 AM

Eh...mutilation I guess I can go with, but self-mutilation? Mom to kid, and inadvertent? I can't justify the term self-mutilation there. Even mutilation implies deliberate or knowing action to me...at least in my case, I don't consider my gluten consumption and resulting nearsightedness and bad teeth to rise to 'mutilation'...tattoos, piercings, and branding I will happily claim, though.

2
737471a5bc1c8b81d968c3f3fcd13b71

on January 21, 2012
at 02:09 AM

Self-harm is seen in animals, though it looks like zoo/laboratory rearing, isolation, and administration of drugs are "important factors leading to increased susceptibility to self-harm." I would conclude (from my vast and extensive wikipedia ctrl-F research) that while it does exist among animals, self-harm does not develop naturally.

To extend the conclusion: can civilization and sedentism be considered a form of captivity for humans? Hormonal upset may be a significant factor, as well.

737471a5bc1c8b81d968c3f3fcd13b71

(389)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:32 AM

Thank ya kindly. I'd also like to clarify that by hormonal upset, I'm speaking mainly of nutritional deficiencies and the presence of anti-nutrients, both caused however indirectly by agriculturalism.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:16 AM

I love your vast wikapedia search...lol...thats cool. Your last remark is actually awesome though! +1 fo sho.

1
1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Most of the self-mutilation I have seen (on TV or movies!) involves rites of passage, like the Sundance, or those who pierce their faces or make tattoos with bamboo sticks. It seems to be really important in the development of the individual in relation to the tribe, and an important milestone of course. I have never heard of animals doing such things, but then, I have never looked into it.

Have you seen Medicine Men Go Wild (on Netflix)? Two white boys end up participating in the piercing ritual in an Indian religious ceremony/festival. It's terrifying!

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 21, 2012
at 03:12 AM

Yes, I think it is. Also, a right of passage of sorts.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on January 21, 2012
at 02:58 AM

Is ear piercing not mutilation?

1096aa84d006fe967128ffbd37e8070e

(1002)

on January 21, 2012
at 03:18 AM

...which I have seen in person.

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