Archives par mot-clé : Scarification

David Le Breton: Shedding one’s skin in adolescence

Interventions involving the skin are attempts to redraw the boundaries between inside and outside; they act as a tool for getting through the delicate passage to manhood or womanhood. Hairstyle, skin (make-up, tattoos, piercings, cosmetic surgery) and clothes – every youngster is over-informed about possible looks and how other people will receive them. Such attempts to control one’s self-image or to alter it (through scarification, for example) express the adolescent’s wish to escape from an intolerable identity.

Adolescence, 2016, 34, 3, 489-498.

David Le Breton : Changer de peau à l’adolescence

Les interventions sur la peau sont des tentatives de remaniement des frontières entre dehors et dedans, un outil de franchissement d’un passage délicat vers l’âge d’homme ou de femme. Coiffure, peau (maquillage, tatouages, piercings, chirurgie esthétique), ou vêtements, chaque jeune est surinformé sur les looks possibles et sur leur réception par les autres. Tentatives de contrôle de l’image de soi ou dans les scarifications par exemple, volonté d’échapper à une identité intolérable.

Adolescence, 2016, 34, 3, 489-498.

Marjorie Roques: the sublimatory experience sublimatoire homosexual object choice in an anorexic adolescent girl

This article will explore the theory conceived by Philippe Gutton with reference to the analysis of the beginning of the treatment of a fourteen year-old girl to show how, after some risky behaviors (anorexia. scarification) and several chaotic episodes in her relationships, a homosexual object choice, which had played out in the transference, turned out to be this young girl’s salvation.

Adolescence, 2015, 33, 1, 75-85.

Marjorie Roques : l’expérience sublimatoire du choix d’objet homosexuel d’une adolescente anorexique

Dans cet article, l’auteur choisit d’explorer la théorisation de la sublimation pubertaire construite par Ph. Gutton, au regard de l’analyse du suivi d’une adolescente âgée de quatorze ans ans au début de sa prise en charge ; pour montrer en quoi, après quelques conduites à risque (anorexie, scarifications) et plusieurs épisodes relationnels chaotiques, le positionnement dans un choix d’objet homosexuel rejoué dans le transfert, se révèle salvateur pour cette jeune fille.

Adolescence, 2015, 33, 1, 75-85.

Fanny Dargent : ritual scarifications

Adolescence, a recent category peculiar to the West, tends to disunite puberty as a universal physiological event. It is not so much the disappearance of rites that is in play here, as the extenuation of the bond of solidarity between the phenomenon of puberty and the social designation – and treatment – of adolescence. Using the example of self-harming practices in adolescence, I would like to hypothesize an increase in acts/symptoms is fed by this separation and tends, paradoxically, to reduce it – i.e., reassert a social and private recognition of identity of the forms of otherness engaged by puberty – and at the same reject these same forms of otherness.

Adolescence, 2014, 32, 1, 47-56.


Suicidal overdose, running away from home and scarification are frequent acting conducts in adolescence. Like other rupturing conducts, we conceive of these corporeal figurabilities anchored, in both form and substance, much more on the side of psychical

Jacques Maître : self-mutilation as a return of the religious ?

The object of this contribution is to locate in the history of Catholicism some elements whose echoes we hear when analyzing current adolescent self-mutilation in French society. In Antiquity, we find the martyr used as a model of asceticism; in the Middle Ages, we note the appearance of the Gothic Christ. The relation between old texts and current clinical data will be thrown into relief by a reading of messages about self-mutilation posted by youngsters on Internet forums.
The heritage of the Catholic past can be read in the practices of flagellation, illustrated by the mortifications of the flesh Marie of the Incarnation and her son Claude Martin inflicted on themselves in the XVIIth century. We also find the bodily inscription of stigmata of the Passion, and mystical anorexia ; the latter prefigures, within the framework of mystic Catholic virtuosity, the mental anorexia which is its secular version, and is now considered to be one of the major pathologies of adolescence. The link between adolescent self-mutilation and anorexia is well known to epidemiologists.
In the area of « post-modernity », scarifying practices are tied in a certain way with Medieval Catholicism through currents such as the « Ghotik », for example, when the singer Marilyn Manson uses Grüneweld’s painting of the Crucifixion as an emblem in a quasi-expressionistic way. The words of youngsters who engage in these practices show a wish to flee an uninhabitable world. However, it is necessary to distinguish clearly the different institutional settings where these adolescents live : family or group homes. In a penal setting, even adults scarify and burn themselves to « deal with » their existential distress.
Finally, this reflection leads to a question dear to the media : are we witnessing a « return of the religious » ? On the contrary, it is a radical decline in the control exercised over the French population by what was once the dominant « religiousness », that of the Catholic church. The dogma repeatedly asserted by the Magisterium is more and more lacking in credibility, which enables one to re-employ its scattered pieces without subscribing to its system of dogma, as we see in the current fashion of having a personal relationship with one’s « guardian angel ». It is the same with the satanism of young « goths »… Moreover, this does not lead to institutionalized ceremonies, but to private rituals that are a cry of suffering addressed to a heaven with a loving ear.

Catherine Matha, Claude Savinaud : from wounds to sacrificial mortifications *.*

In this article, the authors reflect on the masochistic dimension of scarification practices. The displayed erogenous masochism reveals a deficiency of the pre-conscious processes in containing the pulsional pressure through the reversal of feminine passivity into self-agressive activity. The identification to a feminine position which connect eroticism with masochism is reduced to practices of incorporation of unfading signs wich themselves indicate the absence of introjection of the object qualities. These behaviours reveal an impossible hysterisation of intrapsychic conflicts, but also indicate chances of overtaking this conflict initiated by the emergence of puberty and their subjectivation.

Véronique Dufour, Serge Lesourd : scarifications, traces of nothing

Using their work with an adolescent girl who scarifies herself, the authors suggest that passages to the act involving the body be read as an attempt, differentiated by practice, to construct an object of desire. The scarifications carry out this operation by means of cutting, while piercing sustains it through drive excitation, which translates a differentiated relation between the subject and the Other.

David le Breton : The Forest Fire : An Anthropology of Self-Mutilation

In adolescence the body becomes a projection surface that one must control by adorning it, concealing it, abusing it, etc. Existence is a matter of skin, a question of the frontier between inside and outside. Cutting into the body brings suffering to the surface of oneself, where it becomes visible and controllable; it is much more an act of passage than a passage to the act