Unless you've just arrived on earth from a galaxy far, far away you know that human beings are engaging in self-mutilation like never before.
Extensive tattooing and multi-body piercing is as common today as nachos at a super bowl party. You see it everywhere you go. You don't even have to go anywhere, just turn on TV and there it is on TV shows, commercials, and sporting events.
Actors, athletes, and musicians are leading the way and giving acceptance to body disfigurement for everyday people. Hey, is this a beautiful world or what?
The Mayo Clinic web site does not use the term "self-mutilation." I assume this is because they regard that particular designation as offensive to some. (Probably to those who engage in self-mutilation.) More than likely they consider the word mutilation as too judgmental since the word literally means desecration of the body. The acceptable terms that they do use is "self-injury" and "self-harm," but mutilation is still mutilation no matter what you call it.
The Mayo Clinic's definition of self-injury, is as follows: the act of deliberately harming the surface of your own body, such as cutting or burning yourself. They stress that it's typically not meant as a suicide attempt, but rather an unhealthy way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration. Among the forms of self-injury, they list:
• Cutting (cuts or severe scratches with a sharp object)
• Burning (with lit matches, cigarettes or hot, sharp objects like knives)
• Carving words or symbols on the skin
• Piercing the skin with sharp objects
The web site says, "Most frequently, the arms, legs and front of the torso are the targets of self-injury, but any area of the body may be used for self-injury. People who self-injure may use more than one method to harm themselves. Becoming upset can trigger an urge to self-injure.
Many people self-injure only a few times and then stop. But for others, self-injury can become a long-term, repetitive behavior. Although rare, some young people may self-injure in public or in groups to bond or to show others that they have experienced pain."
Sadly, it is no longer RARE that young people "self-injure in public and in groups to show others that they have experienced pain." They are doing it frequently and happily in the open with their friends.
If you live in a fairly large city or town you've seen the proliferation of tattoo and piercing parlors throughout every neighborhood.
What we as a society once frowned on as freaky self-mutilation is now being accepted as "body modification" in today's "enlightened" progressive world. No longer considered wrong or bad or in any way negative, it's simply just another life-style choice. For the first time in the history of Western civilization body disfigurement is widespread and thought of as being "cool."
Statistics vary greatly, but I've read that the percentage of adults in America with tattoos is somewhere near 45%. The number of people with 2 or more tattoos has doubled since 2007. The number of American adults that have had piercings is 61%. 83% have pierced ears.
The national average cost of tattooing is $100 an hour, so it isn't exactly cheap. Clearly lots of people must have lots of disposable income to spend on personal body graffiti.
So beyond the "in thing to do, everybody does it," mentality, what's the attraction? Why does an otherwise normal person go out and have themselves tattooed and pierced? For young people a lot of it could be the "sticking it to the man" idea. "My parents hate it, so that's what I'll do." Young, stupid kids are one thing, but what's the deal with the fifty and sixty somethings getting tattooed and pierced? If it started out as a way of going anti-establishment it isn't that anymore, not when almost half of the establishment is doing it.
The tattoo and piercing thing is primeval. It goes back thousands of years, long before people were civilized.
I suppose, like with so much of what's going on in our ultra-liberal society today such as the lack of regard for human life in the womb and abandonment of traditional marriage, body mutilation is just another throwback to a more primitive time in human history.
I'm not too confident that it will reverse itself anytime soon.
Self-mutilation is a big part of the 21st Century. But what comes after this? What could they possibly come up with that would be more primeval, more ugly and more repulsive?
You can be sure someone is working on it right now.