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Autophagia is the act of a person eating their own body part(s). It’s not categorized as a mental disorder, nor a symptom of a mental disorder, as dictated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). However, Autophagia could be classified under the DSM’s “Impulse-Control Disorders Not Elsewhere Classified.” ICD involves failure to restrain from any kind of impulse, drive, or temptation to carry out an act that’s harmful to oneself or other people.

Causes of Autophagia

A single cause hasn’t been identified to explain more extreme cases of autophagia. However, the condition is linked to pica (appetite for non-food items) or a disorder that’s commonly referred to by its respective abbreviation, OCD. Other cases can involve underlying impulses that spark pica: malnutrition, psychological distress, and abnormal signals received by any part of the brain. Further explanation for autophagia is accredited to the behavior being driven by an urge to inflict pain on the body.

Autophagia Diagnostic Guidelines

Autophagia is expressed when one is compelled to inflict pain on oneself in any fashion. This includes biting or eating portions of one’s own body. Schizophrenia is sometimes paired with autophagia, psychosis, and LeschľNyhan syndrome. The majority of people that are affected by autophagia will often feel a sense of tension or arousal prior to carrying out the act. They feel pleasure/gratification/relief after, and may or may not feel regret or guilt. Those who have autophagia may also not re-evaluate what has taken place.

Treatment for Autophagia

Treatment normally requires tending to wounds. If OCD symtpoms are involved, then medicine or therapy would be incorporated in treatment. Any other psychological conditions that are present will also be addressed.


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