Self-amputation of the ear: three men amputate four ears within five months

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1995 Sep;29(3):508-12. doi: 10.3109/00048679509064962.


Four instances are presented of self-amputation of the pinna of the external ear carried out by three right-handed, white males between January 1993 and May 1993. The common characteristics of these subjects--two men with personality disorder and one with schizophrenia--are discussed and compared with other examples of self-mutilation involving the face and ears, including that of van Gogh. A survey of Australian and New Zealand prisons was conducted to determine the frequency of this form of self-mutilation within the last five years, and yielded only one other case. Connections exist between the amputees supporting the notion that self-mutilation is "contagious"; the relevance of this to issues of management is considered.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Ear, External / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Disorders / psychology*
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Recurrence
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Self Mutilation / psychology*