What is Embedding
Embedding or self-embedding is an extreme form of self injury where the person inserts object under the skin or muscle. These objects sometimes are broken crayons, paper clips, needles, pencil lead and even shards of wood.
Sometimes the objects are temporarily left, other times the objects are permanent, often pushed in too far to be retrieved. This trend is rising amongst teens who previous were “cutters,” and who what to go to the next level, so to speak. With a cutter the thinking is once the cut heals, the pain is gone and with embedding the pain reoccurs and continues.
The history of embedding goes back to as early as the 1930’s with the serial killer, Albert Fish, who became addicted to pain at a young age after being beaten often. It was discovered after his first arrest an x-ray revealed almost 29 needles that were in his pelvic region. Embedding more recently has, unfortunately, become a trend with teens and young adults suffering from a variety of mental issues. Some studies suggest up to 13 to 24 percent of high school students have practiced deliberate self injury at least once.
Although self embedding is a rare behavior there are over 600 medical records of children who were embedding. The majority of these patients suffer from bipolar disorder, a type of mood disorder, which causes depression and mania. Bipolar disorder is extreme mood swings from mania to depression. When someone is suffering from depression, the symptoms are uncontrollable emotions and even the thoughts of wanting to hurt themselves. This causes the person to want to make themselves feel the pain on the inside, more of a physical pain. This is where cutting and self embedding comes into play, and they use a variety of objects to cause themselves physical harm.
Experts say that determining which teens are self embedding is hard to tell. Radiologists are most often the first detectors when reading the x-rays, being able to view the needles that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Other objects that cannot be detected by x-ray require ultra sound to view them. There is no sure fire way to prevent embedding, but knowing the symptoms of bipolar disorder and depression will help you know when things might be headed south. There are great resources online to help learn the symptoms of depression. Those resources with exercise, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications can help cope with some of the symptoms.