Mutilating the Body: Identity in Blood and Ink

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Popular Press, 1997 - Health & Fitness - 161 pages
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Kim Hewitt explores self-mutilation through history and across cultural divisions, finding these acts "positive expressions of social custom, individualism and resourcefulness . . . symptomatic of crises of identity, religious faith, or modern social structures." In modern contexts, such ancient rituals continue to function as an avenue of symbolic death and rebirth. In her analysis of the origins and motivations of body modification, the author draws upon psychological, medical, and cultural theories on self-inflicted pain-tattooing and scarification as well as fasting, bulimia, and some performance art. She finds such contemporary acts of self-mutilation may "express a change in how society perceives marginalization."
 

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Contents

Pain as a Pathway to Social and Spiritual Identity
27
Anorexia and SelfMutilation Diagnosed as Pathological
41
Tattooing and Piercing
65
Edging toward the Mainstream
95
The Cultural Significance of SelfMutilation
117
Bibliography
145
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