There are some strange and weird disorders that can scare you off your feet and leave you thinking whether they actually exist! One of such creepiest disorders is – Autophagia. It is a condition leading to the uncontrollable urge to chew one’s own body parts!
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Autophagia is an Impulse-Control Disorder. It is a serious condition, often paired with other disorders like schizophrenia, pica (the urge to consume inedible objects) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There are mild versions of Autophagia found in almost every individual, like biting the fingernails and chewing the dead skin at the tip of the fingers or on the lips.
But, when this problem in a person grows extreme, it results in self-mutilation. The person suffering from Autophagia starts inflicting self- injury. He tends to cause serious wounds to his own fingers and other body parts. Sometimes even biting them off completely!
The most common symptom of Autophagia is the uncontrollable desire to commit self-harm. It results in biting off one’s flesh, or even cutting portions of one’s own body and cooking it before consumption! Although pain and sufferings are experienced, the patient is least concerned about the harm it causes. Doctors claim that the people suffering from such a condition may also experience many chronic infections and contagious disorders.
Unfortunately, no single cause has yet been identified for this disorder. Autophagia can be triggered due to various issues such as acute psychological distress, actual malnutrition and abnormal appetite signaling from the brain. It can also occur due to the desire to experience sensation, which comes as a result of sensory loss such as numbness, blindness, etc. Many medical researchers also link it to deep-rooted sexual problems and even as an attempt to cope up with stress. Autophagia is often found in correlation with physical ailments like alcoholism and substance abuse.
Autophagia requires the treatment of both psychological and physical health. Initial treatment includes tending to wounds in order to prevent a possible life-threatening infection. Mental treatment comprises of diligent diagnosis of the associated conditions. It is important to treat the other disorders, as well as the emotional stress that the patient is suffering from. Control therapy is also adapted to prevent the people to cause any potential physical harm.
Since very little is known about the true cause of this disorder, preventive measures are quite difficult to determine and even more difficult to implement. In extreme cases, institutionalization and restraints may be needed, along with protective coverings to prevent the patient from biting themselves further. In case a person is suffering from severe OCD, nutritional deficiency or stress and depression, immediate treatment is required in order to prevent conditions like Autophagia.