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Self-cannibalism is either harmless, such as chewing on the inside of your own cheek, or biting off the dead skin on the ends of your fingers; or more serious in forms of self-mutilation.

It is not uncommon for young children to chew on their fingers, or to eat blister scabs. Kids can be so gross. Some habits are carried into adulthood, nervous habits like biting fingernails. It's usually an unconscious gesture.

Like other kinds of self-mutilation, self-cannibalism involves the chewing of one's own flesh, most often on the hands and arms (the easiest parts to get to the mouth). Self-cannibalism is not very common, compared to cutting or burning.

While I don't go so far as to cook myself up in an orange soup and drink myself, I do engage in certain acts of self-mastication from time to time.

It all started when I became displeased by a rather large callus in my left big toe. I picked at it a bit with my (rather long) fingernails, until a brilliant thought came to mind. My teeth are indeed quite strong and sharp; one would be surprised by how effective incisors can be on calluses.

I also took to removing calluses with a pair of toenail clippers, but it never had the quite magical feel. The control, the power, the... simplicity of biting cannot be equaled.

I soon moved on to the dead skin around the tips of the fingers. It provides a very small and quick chew, but this source of masticatable matter is soon exhausted.

I chew on my lower forearms, just above the wrist. But I can't bite too hard, or it hurts. I've never drawn blood. But sometimes I wish I could just CHOMP and take a huge gaping bite down... when you're limited to calluses, you can get hungry. Self-cannibalism (or at least my very limited form thereof) is for me not an end in itself, but simply a way to chew. I chew on my pens and pencils, I chew on my friends' pens and pencils. I chew on my shirt-collar, but it gets soggy. After my shower, I will chew on my towel. Damn, do towels taste good. Try it.

But I don't like limiting myself to inanimate objects. I occasionally nibble on my girlfriend, but she doesn't appreciate it. Recently I bit a friend's large clump of hair tied back. I wonder if she noticed? I think she didn't want to. My (non-murderous) human mastication opportunities are quite limited. But right here, on the flesh about the bones I call my own, lies a willing and ever-present object of my... affections; my own, hairy, salty skin, which is no longer too tight and smells different after it's been out in the sun.

Mmn. Salt.

I'm not entirely sure that this is a clever thing to admit to, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Oft-times I've wondered, if you were stranded on a desert island and didn't have any food at all, but you did have access to a really good cauterising device, could you in fact eat yourself to say alive?

Sure, I realise that those are two pretty big ifs. And there are a couple more. Like infection, for a start. And pain. But still, disregarding those two, could it in fact be done? And what recipe would you use?

You'd start at the feet, surely. Or maybe the calves. There's a lot of meat in a calf, no pun intended. Then the thighs, buttocks, flanks, beer gut. And best of all, consider this: the more you ate, the less you'd need to feed! So eventually you'd be down to a head, trunk and one arm, which you'd probably have to just gnaw at, since it would be very hard to operate a cauterising machine with your teeth, even a good-quality one.

You'd also need that arm for waving when the search-plane flew over. I've never tried it, but I imagine it's very hard to wave with just a trunk.

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