Last month, Kaylee Muthart blinded herself. While shocking,
this is not the first time someone has removed their own eyes.
We spoke to an expert about the history of eye-gouging and why
Posted on March 14, 2018, 12:48 GMT
After injecting a large
dose of methamphetamine, Muthart started hallucinating and
believed she had to sacrifice her eyes in order to save the
world. So she did.
Muthart was high and wandering along a railroad track to her
church, when she thought God was asking her to make a
sacrifice. Numbed to pain from the drugs, she gouged out her
eyes and it took several men to subdue her before paramedics
arrived and sedated her.
After Muthart was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for
her injuries, she was transferred to a psychiatric facility. It
was there where she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder
and prescribed antipsychotic medication.
Historically, psychiatrists thought self-enucleation was a form
of self-inflicted punishment resulting from sexual or Christian religious
guilt. The act is described in a well-known passage from
the Gospel of Matthew: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck
it out, and cast it from thee.” But arguably the most famous
account of self-enucleation is from Sophocles’ epic tragedy,
Oedipus Rex. The protagonist, Oedipus, gouges his own eyes out
after realizing he slept with his mother and killed his father.
The belief that people injure their eyes due to psycho-sexual
guilt was prolonged by Sigmund Freud’s ‘Oedipus complex’, first
proposed in the early 1900s, Large said, and became a central
myth surrounding self-enucleation. “We now know it has very
little to do with religion or sexual guilt and there is no deep
psychological insight, it’s due to psychosis,” Large said.
Muthart, now blind, has
returned home and is currently adjusting to her new
Once she has completed her outpatient psychiatric treatment, 90
days of Narcotics Anonymous, and physical therapy, Muthart
hopes to return to school and fulfill her dreams of becoming a
marine biologist. Although it’s been difficult after losing her
eyesight, she is staying optimistic.
“It took losing my sight to get me back on the right path,
but from the bottom of my heart, I’m so glad I’m here,” Muthart
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or
addiction, here are please call the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration treatment referral hotline
(1-800-662-4357) for 24-hour assistance or visit Findtreatment.samhsa.gov.
You can also visit the American Addiction Centers
website or call 888-987-9927 for more resources and
In the case of a medical or psychiatric emergency, call