Thursday, April 7, 2011

Theater Thursday: In My Skin

Its Theater Thursday so you know the rules. More than likely whatever I talk about in this post will more than likely have spoilers in it. Tread accordingly.

(Along with the usual spoiler warning I'm throwing up a content warning. The movie I'm about to talk about has displays of EXTREMELY graphic self injury. I'm talking borderline cannibalism here. Tread carefully.)



I'm going back in time a bit to talk about a movie I actually watched about 3 weeks ago called "In My Skin". I don't fully remember all the details and I've already sent it back to Blockbuster so bear with me.

Its the story of woman named Esther who while at a party slips and falls against a jagged piece of metal. The result is a very large and deep gash on her right calf that requires stitches. Most people would just let the wound heal and go on about their lives. But this woman is not most people.

To her that wound is a path to obsession.

Starting off with just being fascinated with her original injury Esther begins to reopen the wound repeatedly, ripping out staples and digging in it with other objects. When that wound no long holds her attention she begins to engage in other forms of self injury. At first its simply cutting herself with knives and metal shards. Not long after she is not just cutting herself but actually chewing on herself and actually bitting off flesh and skin, which she plays with in her mouth.

However such things hardly go unnoticed. Esther changes her wardrobe to mostly long sleeves and long pants/skirts. After a while she is hardly able to keep her hands off of herself when out in public (which leads to a very disturbing sequence where she is hallucinating that one of her hands has been removed). She even fakes a car accident to cover up some of her injuries to her husband, who had caught on to her self injury and had made her promise to stop.

Near the end of the movie she is going off to hotel rooms to injure herself. After getting a idea she even goes to the point of cutting a section of skin from her thigh, tanning it into leather, and placing it inside her bra. By the closing credits all she has is her fascination turned obsession.

As someone who used to self injure I have to say that this movie held my interest and it wasn't as shocking to me as it probably is to others (not sure if that's a good thing or bad). Like myself it seemed like part of the reason she took on this dangerous practice was for the sake of validation. At that point in my life I just wanted to feel something, anything that would prove I was human and let's face it all humans know pain. But that's another story for another day.

Career taking off. A relationship that's about to get into full swing. To a lot of people it may be hard to see why she would descend the way she did in the face of such good things in her life. But I suppose if one could easily answer than people would be a lot better equipped to treat this.

So how about you (yes you, the one reading this post right now, I'm talking to you)? Have you seen this and want to share your thoughts? Maybe have stories of self-injury you wish to share? The floor is open. Don't be scared to take it.

2 comments:

Syn said...

SI is a difficult thing for someone who has never gone through it to understand. It seems incomprehensible to them to see someone, who may seem to have nothing but good around them, to pick up a sharp object, something hot, or some other weapon to use against themselves.

It is born of pain, of isolation, of anger, emptiness...so many painful things. We harm ourselves to feel something, or to stop feeling everything as it overwhelms us. Even though we know it won't solve anything, the allure is so powerful. That momentary relief from that desperation to not feel so battered by what life and our minds do to us.

Danny said...

Hey there Syn. Thanks fro dropping by.

SI is a difficult thing for someone who has never gone through it to understand. It seems incomprehensible to them to see someone, who may seem to have nothing but good around them, to pick up a sharp object, something hot, or some other weapon to use against themselves.
Yeah. I'm sure most people who don't know how it feels will wonder, "If you're feeling down then why in the world are you doing damage to your own body? That would only make it worse by adding physical pain to mental and emotional pain right?"

It is born of pain, of isolation, of anger, emptiness...so many painful things. We harm ourselves to feel something, or to stop feeling everything as it overwhelms us. Even though we know it won't solve anything, the allure is so powerful. That momentary relief from that desperation to not feel so battered by what life and our minds do to us.
Agreed. In fact its similar to drug use (you might even be able to argue that the feeling you get from using something like crack is similar to the feeling you get from injuring yourself). You may realize that you are damaging your own body but as you say its in effort to feel something.

Just as a weird aside about a week ago I tripped over a computer monitor and opened a nasty gash on my right leg (the same leg as the woman in the movie).

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