Volume 22, Issue 1 (January 1977)
The Pathology of Self-Mutilation and Destructive Acts: A Forensic Study and Review
The forensic practitioner is well aware of the self-destructive behavior of man through his experiences in evaluating cases in which a life has been taken through self-destructive means, but he may never encounter those cases occasionally confronting his clinical colleagues in which this self-destructive behavior is manifested against a part of the body and results in serious injury or mutilation. This abnormal behavior has been referred to by Karl Menninger  as “focal suicide” and is a manifestation of primary aggressive tendencies directed against one's self. Focal suicide is part of Menninger's general classification of self-destructive behavior of man (Table 1) and includes self-mutilations, malingering, “polysurgery” (compulsion to submit to surgical operations on many occasions), purposeful accidents, and impotence and frigidity.