home
RSS
Why some patients take out their own eyes
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Why some patients take out their own eyes

Remember the myth of Oedipus, where the king of Ancient Thebes stabbed his own eyes after he realized he'd killed his own father and married his mother?

As gory as it sounds, intentionally blinding oneself isn't entirely mythical. Although rare, there have been cases of people seriously injuring their own eyes, and sometimes completely removing them. There's even a technical term, self-enucleation, for the behavior of taking out your eyeballs.

Dr. Matthew Michael Large at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues have analyzed the records of this behavior available, and published several journal articles on the subject. Their latest is in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, appearing this week.

Based on more than 50 reports of self-injury of the eyes over the past 50 years, the scientists argue that it is not necessarily a so-called Oedipal phenomenon; people do not generally harm themselves this way because of guilt regarding incest. Instead, it is a symptom of untreated psychosis, Large and colleagues write.

The authors noted in a 2008 study that in no recorded culture is the eye ritually mutilated; in fact, it is the only external body part for which this is the case.

They analyzed 89 published cases describing serious self-inflicted eye injury by patients with a diagnosis of a psychotic illness. Patients more commonly removed an eye than penetrating it, or inflicting other orbital injuries. “Three patients blinded themselves with air guns and three patients sustained eye injuries in the course of attempting to stab their brains with a pen or pencil," the authors wrote.

Many patients also attempted or engaged in other violent acts: Two had previously committed homicide and there were several reports of serious assaults. And some had also tried other forms of self-mutilation: stabbing themselves in the neck, attempting to amputate their hands, or biting off their own tongues. Two patients attempted to amputate their own penises, and one castrated himself.

They cite a 1984 study in the journal Survey of Ophthalmology looking at 33 case reports, which found that half of them were young women, two-thirds had religious delusions and six cited the same Bible passage from Matthew:

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

In 94% of the 89 cases, patients had psychotic symptoms related to the eye - for instance, that the eye was evil or had threatening powers. And some believed that to save themselves or others, they had to sacrifice a normal eye. In 76 of the cases, there was a schizophrenia-related diagnosis.

“None of the patients was reported to have self-enucleated for reasons that could be reasonably compared to the story of Oedipus," they write.

Mostly, patients injured themselves before getting treated. And they weren't only Christians of European descent, as some studies have suggested. Chinese, Japanese, Jewish and Muslim patients have also been documented, Large and colleagues write.

Eye injury of this nature is a medical and psychiatric emergency, they write. Patients should always consult with an ophthalmic surgeon immediately, and they should get prophylactic antibiotics and corticosteroids. A doctor should assess patients for vision loss in the other eye if only one eye was removed.

"Although we hesitate to recommend restrictive treatment for any patient, in the situation of a first or attempted self-enucleation, 1:1 nursing and the application of fingerless mittens and arm restraints until antipsychotic treatment has taken effect might be the only way to prevent deluded and determined patients from blinding themselves," Large and colleagues write in the new study. "Electro-convulsive therapy has also been described as a useful treatment."

Eye injuries are distinct from other forms of self-injury, which don't necessarily have psychotic roots, say ethnographers Peter and Patti Adler, authors of "The Tender Cut: Inside the World of Self-Injury." Cutting oneself and similar methods of self-harm are often motivated by troubled feelings, and see injuring themselves as a way to self-soothe, self-punish, or express inner bad feelings. Teenagers and adults experiencing these feelings are also known to engage in self-injury, as well as disadvantaged populations.

"People with serious psychological problems may self-injure, but at this point in time there are many, many more people who self-injure because their lives are tough and they don't know other ways of dealing with it," Adler and Adler told CNN in an e-mail.

But injury to the eye signifies more serious psychological problems, experts say. "Although to the naked eye these behaviors may appear related, they are probably not that close," the Adlers said.


soundoff (407 Responses)
  1. Window washing Denver

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    https://www.wtnzfox43.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. window cleaning Denver

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.

    https://www.thecowboychannel.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Window washing Denver

    such a great information for blogger i am a professional blogger thanks

    https://lifestyle.967thewolf.net/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. window cleaning Denver CO

    Great article. Couldn't be write much better! Keep it up!

    https://lifestyle.southernsportstoday.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. window cleaning Denver

    Great article. Couldn't be write much better! Keep it up!

    https://lifestyle.thepodcastpark.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. window cleaning Denver

    Thanks for the information.

    https://lifestyle.680thefan.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. window cleaning Denver

    Wow this blog is very nice!

    https://lifestyle.xtra1063.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Window washing Denver

    such a great information for blogger i am a professional blogger thanks

    https://lifestyle.countrylegends1059.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. window cleaning Denver CO

    I really like this post

    https://lifestyle.967wshv.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. window cleaning Denver CO

    Great article. Couldn't be write much better! Keep it up!

    https://www.newschannelnebraska.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Window washing Denver

    Wow this blog is very nice!

    https://metro.newschannelnebraska.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Window washing Denver CO

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    https://plattevalley.newschannelnebraska.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Window washing Denver

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    https://rivercountry.newschannelnebraska.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Window washing Denver CO

    nice information for a new blogger. it is really helpful

    https://southeast.newschannelnebraska.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. window cleaning Denver CO

    I really like this post

    https://lifestyle.mykmlk.com/story/43461794/signature-window-washing-company-celebrates-6-years-in-business

    March 14, 2021 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Window washing Denver CO

    Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You're doing a great job Man,Keep it up.

    http://finance.azcentral.com/azcentral/news/read/41077120/

    March 14, 2021 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. window cleaning Denver

    Great article. Couldn't be write much better! Keep it up!

    http://markets.post-gazette.com/postgazette/news/read/41077120

    March 14, 2021 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. window cleaning Denver

    Thank You for your information

    http://markets.buffalonews.com/buffnews/news/read/41077120/

    March 14, 2021 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Window washing Denver

    this is very informative and intersting for those who are interested in blogging field.

    http://finance.minyanville.com/minyanville/news/read/41077120

    March 14, 2021 at 13:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Mitzi

    I'm very pleased to uncover this site. I need to to thank you for ones
    time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely appreciated every part of it and I have
    you bookmarked to look at new things on your website.

    March 15, 2021 at 00:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ilse

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much,
    However I am experiencing difficulties with your RSS.

    I don't understand the reason why I am unable to join it.
    Is there anybody having identical RSS issues?
    Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond?
    Thanks!!

    March 16, 2021 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Thanks , I've recently been searching for info approximately this topic
    for a long time and yours is the greatest I have found out till
    now. However, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you certain about the supply?

    March 16, 2021 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I'm trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog.
    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

    March 23, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Highly energetic article, I liked that bit. Will there be
    a part 2?

    March 26, 2021 at 03:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Cheri

    Thanks for the good writeup. It in fact was once a enjoyment
    account it. Glance advanced to more added agreeable from
    you! By the way, how could we communicate?

    March 26, 2021 at 04:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the article
    you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers
    like you who aren't afraid to say how they believe.
    All the time go after your heart.

    March 26, 2021 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Hello, I think your site could possibly be having internet browser compatibility
    problems. When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got
    some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide
    you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, wonderful blog!

    March 26, 2021 at 21:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. vách vệ sinh

    If some one wishes expert view concerning blogging and site-building
    then i propose him/her to pay a quick visit this web site, Keep up the fastidious job.

    March 28, 2021 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. http://inbooks.atthost24.pl/

    Marxism And Literature Terry Eagleton Beowulf Epic Poem Full Text

    my website wordpress.com (http://inbooks.atthost24.pl/)

    March 30, 2021 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. pdf books

    Current Topics In Medicinal Chemistry Bioxbio Religious Didactic Literature

    Also visit my blog post pdf books

    March 31, 2021 at 06:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Edmund Whittenberg

    I quite like reading through a post that can make people think. Also, thank you for permitting me to comment!

    https://extraproxies.com/best-pattern-for-library-which-creates-objects-based-on-array-api-response/

    March 31, 2021 at 16:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. wordpress pdf

    Mel Chemistry Set Reviews Energy And Environmental Science Sahag Voskian

    Look at my webpage :: wordpress pdf

    March 31, 2021 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. polandsleep.e-kei.pl

    Online Nursing School Lvn To Rn The Bluest Eye Original
    Book Cover

    Here is my site pdf list (polandsleep.e-kei.pl)

    April 1, 2021 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. library

    Stranger Things Book Ebay Sicp Infection

    Also visit my web-site – library

    April 2, 2021 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Keep on writing, great job!

    April 4, 2021 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. https://mbee.com.vn/

    I'm impressed, I must say. Seldom do I come across
    a blog that's both equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have
    hit the nail on the head. The problem is something too few men and women are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy I stumbled across this during my search for something relating to this.

    April 5, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it's truly informative.
    I'm gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you
    continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.

    Cheers!

    April 7, 2021 at 10:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. mbee.com.vn

    This web site truly has all of the information I wanted concerning this subject and didn't know who
    to ask.

    April 7, 2021 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. diamond art kits

    199327 349658I like you weblog (dsol, je suis francais, je parle mal anglais) 527250

    April 7, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. https://mbee.com.vn/

    I've read some just right stuff here. Certainly price bookmarking for revisiting.
    I surprise how so much effort you set to make one of these magnificent informative web site.

    April 7, 2021 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Lan

    Hey I know this is off topic but I was wondering if you knew of any widgets I could add to my blog
    that automatically tweet my newest twitter updates.
    I've been looking for a plug-in like this for quite
    some time and was hoping maybe you would have some experience with something like this.

    Please let me know if you run into anything. I truly enjoy
    reading your blog and I look forward to your new
    updates.

    April 8, 2021 at 04:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. https://mbee.com.vn/dia-chi-ban-vach-ngan-ve-sinh-compact-tai-ho-chi-minh-hcm/

    This is really interesting, You are a very skilled
    blogger. I've joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your excellent post.

    Also, I have shared your web site in my social
    networks!

    April 8, 2021 at 04:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    We're a gaggle of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
    Your website provided us with valuable info to work on. You have performed a formidable process and our whole community
    will likely be grateful to you.

    April 11, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Amazing things here. I'm very glad to peer your post.

    Thank you a lot and I'm having a look forward to
    touch you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

    April 11, 2021 at 04:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. vách ngăn compact

    Ridiculous story there. What happened after? Take care!

    April 11, 2021 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. vách ngăn compact

    Hi, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this post.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

    April 11, 2021 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. vách ngăn wc

    It is really a great and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you shared this
    helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this.
    Thanks for sharing.

    April 12, 2021 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. mbee.com.vn

    We're a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.
    Your website provided us with valuable information to work
    on. You have done a formidable job and our entire
    community will be thankful to you.

    April 12, 2021 at 06:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    I really like what you guys are usually up too. This type of clever work and reporting!

    Keep up the excellent works guys I've incorporated you guys to my blogroll.

    April 15, 2021 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. vách ngăn vệ sinh

    Hi this is kind of of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG
    editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding know-how so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    April 15, 2021 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.