Self-Embedding Behavior in Adults: A Report of Two Cases and a Systematic Review

Victor S. Mannarino, Débora C.S. Pereira, Wagner S. Gurgel, Carolina B.F. Costa, Alexandre M. Valença, Leonardo F. Fontenelle, Mauro Vitor Mendlowicz

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Self-embedding behavior (SEB) is the repeated insertion of sharp objects, such as needles or pins, into the soft tissues of abdomen, limbs, and other body parts. In this study, two cases of SEB were reported and the scientific worldwide literature reviewed. Thirty-two cases of SEB were identified through systematic searches in the main bibliographic databases. Mean age was 35 years (SD = 8.97). Just over two-thirds of the patients were female. Although the number of embedded objects could be as high as 200, major clinical and surgical complications were uncommon and mortality was null. Patients with SEB presented three major diagnoses: psychotic (25%), personality (21.9%), and factitious (28.1%) disorders. The practice of SEB largely went undetected as the patients themselves did not bring it to the attention of family members or physicians and usually denied they have engaged in SEB. A high level of suspicion is required to avoid a missed diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-961
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Forensic Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • deliberate self-harm
  • factitious disorders
  • forensic psychiatry
  • forensic science
  • personality disorders
  • self-injurious behavior

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