For the cellular phenomenon, see Autophagy.
Self-cannibalism is the practice of eating oneself, also called autocannibalism[1], or autosarcophagy[2]. A similar term which is applied differently is autophagy, which specifically denotes the normal process of self-degradation by cells. Whilst almost an exclusive term for this process, autophagy nonetheless has occasionally made its way into more common usage[3].

Self-cannibalism among humans

As a natural occurrence

A certain amount of self-cannibalism occurs unwittingly, as the body consumes dead cells from the tongue and cheeks. Ingesting one's own blood from an unintentional lesion such as a nose-bleed or an ulcer is clearly not intentional harvesting and consequently not considered cannibalistic.

Catabolisis is also sometimes described as "self-cannibalism."

As a disorder or symptom thereof

One disorder known to cause autocannibalism is Lesch-Nyhan syndrome which features "self-mutilating behaviors, characterized by lip and finger biting." Sixty percent of Lesch-Nyhan sufferers have to have their teeth removed to prevent them from biting off their lips, cheeks, tongues, and other parts. Similar symptoms are exhibited in Fragile X syndrome and Cornelia de Lange syndrome.

Acute pancreatitis can involve the auto-digestion of the pancreas.

Fingernail-biting that develops into fingernail-eating is a form of pica. Other forms of pica include the compulsion of eating one's own hair (also trichophagia and Rapunzel syndrome), which can form a hairball (trichobezoar) in the stomach.

As a choice

Some people will engage in self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modification, for example eating their own skin.[4] Others will drink their own blood, a practice called autovampirism[5] but sucking blood from wounds is generally not seen to be cannibalism. Placentophagy may be a form of self-cannibalism. On January 13, 2007, Danish artist Marco Evaristti hosted a dinner party for his most intimate friends. The main meal was agnolotti pasta, on which was topped a meatball made with the artist's own fat, removed earlier in the year in a liposuction operation [6].

As a crime

Allegations of forced self-cannibalism as a form of torture or war crime are not uncommon. It had been alleged that the infamous Erzsébet Báthory forced some of her servants to eat their own flesh.[7] It has also been alleged that in the 16th Century, Spanish colonizers forced natives to eat their own testicles.[8] Allegations were also made in the years following the 1991 coup in Haiti.[9] In the 1990s it had been alleged that young people in Sudan were forced to eat their own ears.[10]

One famous case of self-cannibalism is the Armin Meiwes trial. One of the persons involved, Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes, had hoped to engage in self-cannibalism before being cannibalized himself, although it is unclear if he actually did so.

Self-cannibalism among animals

The short-tailed cricket is known to eat its own wings.[11] Mice may eat their own tails if they are starving. Ant queens are known to eat their wings and flight muscles after they start a colony.

Cultural references

Enlarge picture
The ancient symbol Ouroboros depicts a serpent biting its own tail.
  • Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is featured in the novel The Cobra Event by Richard Preston.
  • Stephen King's short story "Survivor Type", about a man trapped on a small island.
  • Ryan, Alan (1984) "The Bones Wizard", Whispers.
  • Roger, Frank, "The Implosion of a Gastrocrat: an Experiment in Autophagy".
  • In the manga One Piece the character Zeff eats his own foot while marooned on an island after a storm that destroyed his ship. However in the anime version he just cut off his leg with an anchor during the storm to save himself and Sanji from drowning.
  • In the novel Hannibal, Hannibal Lecter recalls psychologically manipulating a handicapped patient of his into eating his own face with his dog. In the course of the novel Lecter also feeds part of a man's brain to that man involuntarily.
  • In issue #5 of the Marvel Comic Livewires, Stem Cell ate most of her own skin so that she could use it as base material for constructing her Pyronano "babies". Afterwards, she considered adopting "Autocannibal" as her name.
  • In the original book The Queen of the Damned, the twin sisters Maharet and Mekare are punished for refusing to help Akasha. Mekare's tongue is cut out and Maharet's eyes are removed. Both women then ingest the parts.
  • Rammstein's song "Mein Teil" is about Armin Meiwes and his victim, who supposedly shared a meal made out of the victim's genitals.
  • In the computer game Zork, the command "eat self" returns the message "Autocannibalism is not the answer".
  • In the movie Spaceballs, one character named Pizza the Hutt (a parody of Jabba the Hutt) is revealed to have eaten himself to death while locked in his car with no other food sources.

See also


In cell biology, autophagy, or autophagocytosis, is a catabolic process involving the degradation of a cell's own components through the lysosomal machinery. It is a tightly regulated process which plays a normal part in cell growth, development, and homeostasis, where it
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In cell biology, autophagy, or autophagocytosis, is a catabolic process involving the degradation of a cell's own components through the lysosomal machinery. It is a tightly regulated process which plays a normal part in cell growth, development, and homeostasis, where it
..... Click the link for more information.
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For the related metabolic process, see anabolism.

Catabolism is the set of metabolic pathways that break down molecules into smaller units and release energy.
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MeSH D005600 Fragile X syndrome is a syndrome of X-linked mental retardation. Boys with the syndrome may have large testicles (macroorchidism), prognathism, hypotonia and autism, and a characteristic but variable face with large ears, long face, high-arched palate,
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Cornelia de Lange Syndrome
Classification & external resources

ICD-10 Q 87.1 (ILDS Q87.170)
ICD-9 759.89

OMIM 122470
DiseasesDB 29651

eMedicine ped/482  

MeSH C10.597.606.643.
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Acute pancreatitis
Classification & external resources

ICD-10 K 85.
ICD-9 577.0

DiseasesDB 9539
MedlinePlus 000287
eMedicine med/1720   radio/521

Acute pancreatitis is rapidly-onset inflammation of the pancreas.
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The pancreas is a gland organ in the digestive and endocrine systems of vertebrates<ref name="New Standard" />. It is both exocrine (secreting pancreatic juice containing digestive enzymes) and endocrine (producing several important hormones, including
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Nail biting is the habit of biting one's fingernails or toenails during periods of nervousness, stress, hunger, or boredom [1] . It can also be a sign of mental or emotional disorder.
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MeSH D010842

Pica is an appetite for non-nutritive substances (e.g., coal, soil, chalk, paper etc.) or an abnormal appetite for some things that may be considered foods, such as food ingredients (e.g., flour, raw potato, starch).
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Trichophagia is the compulsive eating of hair. Most often, long hair is masticated while still attached to the head and then swallowed. The hair eventually collects in the gastrointestinal tract causing symptoms such as indigestion and stomach pain.
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Rapunzel Syndrome (also known as Trichobezoar) is an extremely rare intestinal condition in humans resulting from the consumption of hair. It is named after the beautiful long-haired character Rapunzel in the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.
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hairball is a small collection of hair or fur formed in the stomach of animals that is occasionally vomited up when it becomes too big. Hairballs are primarily a tight elongated cylinder of packed fur, but may include bits of vomit or recently swallowed food.
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A bezoar or enterolith is a sort of calculus or concretion, a stone found in the intestines of mostly ruminant animals, but occurring among others including humans. There are several varieties of bezoar, some of which have inorganic constituents and others organic.
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In anatomy, the stomach is a bean-shaped hollow muscular organ of the gastrointestinal tract involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication. The word stomach is derived from the Latin stomachus, which derives from the Greek word
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Body modification (or body alteration) is the permanent or semi-permanent deliberate altering of the human body for non-medical reasons, such as spiritual, various social (markings), BDSM "edgeplay" or aesthetic. It can range from the socially acceptable decoration (e.g.
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Placentophagy (from 'placenta' + Greek φαγειν, to eat) is the act of mammals eating the placenta of their young after childbirth.
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January 13 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

It is still celebrated as New Year's Eve by those on the Julian calendar (Old New Year).
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20th century - 21st century - 22nd century
1970s  1980s  1990s  - 2000s -  2010s  2020s  2030s
2004 2005 2006 - 2007 - 2008 2009 2010

2007 by topic:
News by month
Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun
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Marco Evaristti, born 1963 in Chile, is a Danish artist.

After studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Evaristti gained notoriety for a museum display entitled Helena in 2000 that featured ten functional blenders containing live goldfish.
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Agnolotti ('priest hats' in Italian) is a kind of ravioli made with a small round piece of flattened pasta dough, folded over with a meat and vegetable stuffing inside. They are prepared by either poaching them or by browning them in a frying pan with butter.
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Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty ("fat modeling"), liposculpture or suction lipectomy ("suction-assisted fat removal") is a cosmetic surgery operation that removes fat from many different sites on the human body.
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Torture, according to international law, is "any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third
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war crime is a punishable offense under international law, for violations of the laws of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. Every violation of the law of war in an inter-state conflict is a war crime, while violations in internal conflicts are typically limited to
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Countess Erzsébet Báthory (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian, Alžbeta Bátoriová(-Nádasdy) in Slovak, Elżbieta Batory in Polish, August 7(?), 1560 – August 21, 1614), was a Hungarian countess from the renowned Báthory family.
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indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Americas, their descendants, and many ethnic groups who identify with those peoples. They are often also referred to as Native Americans, First Nations
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coup d'état (IPA: [kuːdeɪˈtɑː] or AHD: [ko͞o"dā tä]), or simply coup, is the sudden overthrow of a government, often through illegal means by a part of the state establishment —
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"L'Union Fait La Force"   (French)
"Unity makes Strength"
La Dessalinienne
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"Al-Nasr Lana"   (Arabic)
"Victory is Ours"
نحن جند للہ جند الوطن   (Arabic)

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Armin Meiwes (born December 1, 1961) is a German who achieved international notoriety for killing and eating a voluntary victim he had found via the Internet. After jointly attempting to eat the detached penis, Meiwes killed his victim, and continued to eat a large amount of his
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