Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Alice MillsEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_173


Dismemberment means the taking apart of a body and the removal of one or more body parts. At one end of the scale is the tearing apart of a whole body, resulting in death, as in stories of the early Christians being fed to the lions and Greek myths about the tearing apart of Dionysus by the Titans. The other end of the scale is harder to determine. Forcible removal of eyes, as in St. Lucia’s decision to take out her eyes to discourage her pagan suitor, probably counts, but does either castration, as in Origen’s self-castration “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Matthew 19:12), or circumcision, as enjoined on the Jews in the Old Testament? Bodily injuries such as the piercings and flagellation wounds of penitents and the scarification of Australian Aborigines undergoing initiation do not involve the removal of a body part and hence should not qualify as dismemberment nor should such phenomena as stigmata manifesting on the palms and feet of some saints.

Bodily Wholeness


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BallaratBallaratAustralia