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Albert Fish with 27 inserted needles
An X-ray image of Graphophone needles driven into the flesh by a psychiatric patient.

Self-embedding is a form of self-injury where foreign objects are inserted underneath the skin, and left either for a limited period of time or permanently.[1]


As early as 1936 the phenomenon was recorded when the child murderer Albert Fish was caught and executed. An X-ray of his pelvis revealed about 27 or 29 needles inserted into his groin; the image was used as evidence at his trial.[2]

In 2008, some teenagers were found in a study to be using this as a more extreme form of self-injury. The trend was first discovered by radiologists.[3]


  1. ^ Sharples, Tiffany (December 11, 2008). "Teens' Latest Self-Injury Fad: Self-Embedding". Time magazine. Retrieved 2008-12-16. Eleven out of 505 patients whom the team had treated in more than a decade had inserted objects – from chunks of crayons to unfolded paper clips – under their skin in a behavior the Nationwide team labeled 'self-embedding.' 
  2. ^ "Albert Fish". Crime Library. Retrieved 2008-12-16. Initially, Dr. Wertham had some concerns about whether Fish was lying to him, especially when he told the psychiatrist that he had been sticking needles into his body for years in the area between the rectum and the scrotum: 'He told of doing it to other people too, especially children. At first, he said, he had only stuck these needles in and pulled them out again. Then he had stuck others in so far that he was unable to get them out, and they stayed there.' The doctor had him X-rayed and sure enough, there were at least twenty-nine needles in his pelvic region. 
  3. ^ Pigg, Susan (Jan 1, 2009). "Disturbing trend shows troubled teens pushing sharp items deep into their flesh". The Daily Gleaner (Brunswick Press). p. C5. Retrieved 2009-01-02.