NB. Please note that if you are outside North America, the embargo for LANCET press material is 0001 hours UK Time 4 April 2003.
'One of the most popular types of male genital piercings, the Prince Albert, is named after Queen Victoria's husband. Albert supposedly wore a penile ring, which he called a dressing ring, to firmly secure his genitals in either the right or the left leg of the extremely tight uniform trousers of the period.' (p 1207)
Body piercing is increasing in popularity around the world. In a review in this week's issue of THE LANCET, Aglaja Stirn from Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe Clinic, Frankfurt, Germany, describes the history, origins, and peculiarities of various forms of body piercing. Also outlined are the procedures involved, variations in healing time, legal aspects and regulations, and the complications and side-effects of bodypiercing.
The motivation for and psychological background behind body piercing is also discussed. By presenting research results, the author aims to raise awareness of the many risks associated with body piercing; and by presenting psychological data, she aims to create an understanding of the multifaceted and often intense motivations associated with this practice-and thereby to diminish any prejudices held by health professionals against people with piercings.
Aglaja Stirn comments: "Depending on where on the body a piercing is located, body piercing makes both an introverted, private, and an extroverted, public statement towards society. In return, piercing is perceived with ambivalence and somewhat negatively by society. However, the collective prejudices against body piercing and the often severe side-effects seem to be incentives rather than disincentives for the practice. Thus, irrespective of personal judgment, this form of body modification should be accepted as a social reality. Health professionals should therefore be aware of the latest research results in this area to be able to give adequate advice and deal competently with any side-effects."
Contact: Dr Aglaja Stirn, Klinikum der Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universitaet, Klinik fuer Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychoterapie, Psychoterapeutische Ambulanz (Hs 93), Heinrich-Hoffmann-Strasse 10, D-60528 Frankfurt am Main, Germany; T) 49-69-301-5814; F) 49-696-301-6676; E) email@example.com