Previously recognized forms of self-injury included cutting, burning, pulling out hair, breaking bones or swallowing dangerous substances. The new way is to embed a foreign object, such as a nail or paper clip, into one's body.
At the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, Dr. William Shiels, chief of radiology at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, presented the first research on self-embedding, noting that radiologists are often the ones who detect the disorder.
Shiels's study involved ten teenagers who had jammed more than 50 objects - including metal staples, metal paper clips, a lead pencil, crayons, stones, glass and wood - into their arms, ankles, feet, and hands. One girl embedded a six-inch paper clip into her arm.
Most of the teens suffered from mental disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, and Dr. Shiels warned that self-embedding can be a form of suicidal ideation that mandates immediate attention. "Parents often do not see the behavior evolving," he said. "Parents need to recognize the problem and get their child into therapy quickly."
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