Bod Mod

Julian O'Dea (jodea@MAILHOST.DPIE.GOV.AU)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 12:52:14 +1000

Since the body modification thread seems to be still discernable I thought
I would submit a couple of thoughts on this interesting topic.

As far as I know no-one has yet mentioned the following possibilities on
why people pierce, burn and constrict themselves.

1) Pleasurable release of endorphins. There was a fairly recent film on
"modern primitives" by an American anthropologist who suggested that
piercing the skin, eg in the Sun Dance, might be particularly good at
causing the released of endorphins. There is the "it feels so good when it
stops" phenomenon as well.

2) Masochistic pleasure.

3) To express a feminine ideal of vulnerability and weakness (as in high
heels, corsets, foot-binding, short skirts, constrictive clothing in
general, pierced ears and heavy earrings, impractical hair and makeup,
ankle chains, bangles, necklaces and chokers). This is seen in its extreme
expression in bondage pornography, which frequently represents women in
constrictive clothing (eg. with their arms rendered useless, in gas masks,
in impossibly high heels) and increasingly in advertising of products (eg.
a recent perfume advertisement which had the woman's hands fastened behind
her back by the perfume container).

4) Neurotic expressions (perhaps similar to dissociative self-cutting).
Some of the "street mutilations" among young people in recent years (safety
pins through the facial skin, haircuts which marred the appearance, etc)
may have been expressions of anomie, boredom, depression or rebellion. (Julian O'Dea)