Saturday, February 5, 2011

Why Do People Cut Themselves?

by Tara Deliberto

Celebrities like Megan Fox, Angelina Jolie, and Demi Lavato have all purposely cut themselves. But why?

Well, it isn't all that clear. And the answer "they do it just for attention" doesn't make too much sense.

Sure, getting attention could be part of the answer, but it's not that simple. If you've never cut yourself, consider this: of all the things you could possibly do for attention, is carving your skin with a razor really at the top of the list? Probably not.

After researching self-injury for several years, one thing seems certain - cutting immediately halts emotional pain. It might seem backwards that physical pain stops psychological pain. But we need to take a closer look.

Starting Generally

I would actually say a major contributing factor to self-injury is actually our tendency to make things too simple. Allow me to explain. Although judging what is right and wrong is super complicated - hence the whole legal system - we are quick to slap labels on people like "good" or "bad." But life is more nuanced than that! Of course labeling helps us communicate, but a lot of very important information gets lost when we stamp something as "good" or "bad."

More Specifically

Now getting more directly to the point of this post, the very same language we use to describe our world and communicate ideas to others, is used to communicate to ourselves. We think in words. We label ourselves as good or bad. We tell ourselves we are good or bad.

And what people are telling themselves right before they cut is nearly unbearable to hear. I'd imagine their mind is shouting things at them like "You're a worthless bitch. How could anyone love you? You disgust me."

The thing is, I don't think I've ever met a totally worthless, unlovable, and disgusting human being, whatever that is. It is usually very clear from a third party perspective that the self-talk of a person who cuts, is incredibly harsh and one-sided. Despite this, people go on labeling themselves anyhow.

Not only do people who cut tell themselves abusive things, they believe them too. This is a very important distinction. Once people learn to determine the difference between having a thought and believing it in therapy, we usually see symptoms improving a lot. It is one thing to think "Wow, I am a bad person," acknowledging it as just a thought, and moving on. It is another thing to think "Wow, I am a bad person" and believe it.

With a new understanding of abusive self-talk in the mind, let's shift to discussing the body.

The Body

Let's just say you're strolling along, thinking about how beautiful the sky is, when you walk into a telephone pole. The second after your toe smashes into the pole, are you still thinking about that beautiful sky? Probably not. You're just thinking about how much your damn toe hurts.

Now, what if you were thinking about how you're such a selfish slut? What if you believed it? Would you rather be in the emotional anguish that comes along with berating yourself or would it be easier to have your toe hurt?

Yeah, that's what I thought. You'd rather stub your toe, wouldn't you?

Right after the body sustains an injury, it is kind of hard to be caught up in your thoughts. The physical pain provides a mental break from really horrible self-talk. The pain becomes a vacation.

[It is worth mentioning that even if the emotional pain isn't necessarily tied to what some people might call irrational thought (but is from an actual loss or event), it still be halted by self-injury. Usually though, I'd bet there is some degree of extreme thought causing the pain to be increasingly intense.]

Now back to talking about cutting for attention. Sure, people could also be cutting for attention, but the picture is clearly a lot more complicated. On either side of the spectrum, you may have people who solely for attention, and on the other, people who cut and have never told anyone. Most likely, people cut for several reasons. Now, let's take this discussion a bit further from here.

While it seems that verbal thoughts like "You're a worthless cow" repeating over and over might be an important factor, there are many more pieces of the puzzle.

The Physiology of Self-Injury

There are some non-human primates, especially neglected ones, who tear out bits of fur when they're distressed. They actually harm themselves.

[Side note: The thought of a neglected monkey pulling out tufts of fur can be pretty upsetting, cant it? Unfortunately, while it is easy for some of us to have sympathy for monkeys who hurt themselves, it is more difficult to take a non-judgmental stance towards humans who cut.]

While these neglected monkeys harm themselves like humans, they don't have language capacities like us. Therefore, it's not very likely that abusive self-talk leads to self-harm in non-human primates. Percentage wise, the non-human primate self-injury may be maintained much more by the emotional, rather than a linguistic or symbolic system.

While language is a new development on the evolutionary scene, emotions are not. Emotions have been around for a while, without the complication of human language. As any loving pet owner like myself could tell you, animals have emotions.

What happens on a physiological level after someone cuts is not currently understood; however, my guess is that there is a release of endorphins, which make you feel good. We also know that heart-rate dramatically drops after cutting in people who often self-injure.

In short, on a mental/language level as well as an emotional level, there is likely some serious relief occurring right after cutting.

Wrapping Up

The way I see it at this particular point in time, is that very upsetting abusive self-talk is immediately halted, there a shift of attention to the cut, and endorphins are released, which serves to calm the body further.

Of course, the reasons people cut are diverse and they change over time. This may not be true for everyone. For instance, people may also cut to feel something if they're feeling nothing or numb. An additional reason people report cutting is to punish themselves. Perhaps sometime soon I'll write about these functions as well; however, it seems to me that the main function of cutting is to help reduce negative feelings in the moment.

Thankfully though, wonderful treatments like Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) have been invented to help with cutting. If you or someone you love engages in self-injury, there are wonderful resources available. Go online and find a DBT therapist near you at www.abct.org or join a DBT Skills Group near you. I co-lead one in Manhattan at the American Institute of Cognitive Therapy, if you so happen to be in the area.

Blog Info

For more posts on self-injury, check out The Psychology Easel's Self-Injury Section.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @TaraDeliberto and subscribe to this blog in the right sidebar.

Do You Self Harm?

If you engage in self-injury, an excellent resource is S.A.F.E. Alternatives, an absolutely wonderful organization devoted to the treatment of self-injury (you can visit their website at http://www.selfinjury.com/).



Also, a very helpful book on directly treating self-injury is Bodily Harm. Select this book in the icon above to purchase.

The best treatment for cutting is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).  Go to www.ABCT.org to find a DBT therapist near you.




162 comments:

Sara said...

Great post and very insightful. I enjoy reading your thoughts and learning more about this issue, so keep up the good work!

Tara said...

Thank you very much for your input, Sara.

I would love to be able to help anyone who engages in self-injury, has a loved one who does, or is a treatment provider, in any way I can.

Anonymous said...

As a 16 year old cutter, I'm inclined to say that many of your thoughts on why some people cut are pretty accurate, at least from my own experiences (I obviously can't speak for all self injurers).
On behalf of all of us who struggle with this, I'd like to thank you and anyone else who takes measures to understand and help us, because there aren't many who are willing to do that. It makes a huge difference in recovery when someone makes an honest effort to care, and actually shows it.

Tara said...

Of course. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog and for leaving the thoughtful comment. I really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that I disagree with much of what say. Not that it is inaccurate, saying people harm to get rid of negative thoughts could be accurate to some, but you seem to over simplify things. People are not the same, not everyone does things for the same reason.
An example, say we both went to the shop and both bought eggs, flour and butter, you might want to bake a cake, but I'm making pancakes. We are doing the same thing for different reasons, people don't follow specific paths of behaviour for the same reason.
I used to self harm, but only because I like the feeling, I never had much trouble in school other then the odd nasty comment, but no more than others, I had a good group of friends, and never really felt bad about myself.
I have studied psychology and I always feel that in that field of study there is always too much oversimplification. Humans are all different, we all perceive the world differently.
One problem with your hypothesis is this, a great number of self harmers use razor blades to self injure. You may or may not be aware that when you cut yourself with a razor it does not inflict immediate pain. For instance if I cut myself shaving I would not notice till it starts hurting hours late. The same principle applies to deep cuts, they don't hurt for a while, and the anticipation of such a cut would realise endorphins that would stop pain from occurring for some time.
I think you want to help, but I feel that as you, yourself have not had the inclination to self injure for any reason, you would have no true insight into the subject apart from second hand information, from people who may want to distort the truth due to their self destructive behaviour. Also you seem a little egotistical, that by helping people you make yourself feel better, or more important. If you truly wanted to help, you should be less forward, don't draw so much attention to yourself, and be modest.
I hope this comment is not nasty but I feel you need to reflect more on the nature of the world, as people are all different, you can't categorize behaviour as specifically as you have, their is no single reason for any behaviour. Some people want to help, others give the impression of wanting to help when they actually, selfishly want to draw attention to themselves. Perhaps, if your blog were anonymous you would put more attention on the issue and not yourself.

Tara said...

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for leaving such a detailed comment. I really need feedback of all types. While all the positive comments boost that ego, the more critical comments from people who know the most about self-injury are really the important ones.

You make several very valid points. This post is a gross over-simplification of the process of self-injury, which has a lot of different functions. I was simply trying to relate some reasons why people may engage in self-injury to those who do not understand it. In fact, some of the reasons for self-injury that I have researched include not only trying to escape negative feelings, but making people feel present after dissociation, to get out of doing something aversive, or to garner support. These seem to be valid reasons as well. I also agree with your point that many different people engage in self-injury for different reasons. I also think that one person may engage in self-injury for various reasons at different times.

As for the reasons of my postings, I agree there may be some truth to that (lol). Perhaps part of the reason I am helping other people is to feel good about myself. Who knows? However, I'm sure the reasons why I blog are just as complicated as reasons for engaging in self-injury.

Understanding human behavior is difficult.

Vampire said...

I completely agree with the way you mentioned you think SI starts. I started back in junior high and it was like "Ooo look a knife! I wonder what happens if I cut my wrist with it... oh that's cool... I wonder if anyone will notice?"

And now I can't stop.

Though I would like to mention that it hurt like hell when you were so dismissive about animals. I like how the doctor in Charlotte's Web put it... Just because we can't understand animals, doesn't mean they can't talk. Though as a vegan, perhaps I'm just a more compassionate person.


And that whole thing like.. you hear those words in your mind and you *believe* them... that reminds me a lot of what happens when I consider eating. Interesting how linked those two things are (cutting and eating)...

Tara said...

Thanks so much for reading this post and taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

I'm sorry it hurt when you read the part about animals. I certainly didn't intend to be dismissive. I was just trying to point out (in apparently a cold way that I will now go back and soften) that animals do not have language capabilities. This is not to say that they are any less worthwhile.

Very interesting observation about eating. Really - thank you so much for sharing. That gives me a lot to think about. Perhaps it will be the topic of a future post :).

Anonymous said...

I must first address a reply you recieved from "Anonymous" who obviously is mean spirited, perhaps jealous and most telling replied as Anonymous. In this case I will do the same to avoid any problems it might cause you. This person apparently does not know not what they are talking about. This person sounds like a cutter, who is ashamed and thinks they know it all. Am not a fan of this person. It is negative people like this that put a damper on efforts from dedicated people like yourself searching for answers to help others. Now that I got that off my chest, I must tell you that many of my colleagues and I agree and greatly appreciate the way you expressed this extremely complicated psychological manifestation and how you shed light and presented your professional thoughts, facts, and references and insights on this very important subject. It seems like many people who engage in this practice would be very secretive about what they do to themselves like "our friend" or perhaps feel shame and remain anonymous! I believe that it is brave souls like yourself who are intelligent, compassionate and insightful enough and who will be able to help these people in the future. Keep up the great work and there is no doubt that you will make an excellent therapist in the future. HECK, You sound like a great one now! You open up the communication channels which is the most important first step to helping these people. At least that is my humble opinion. Enjoyed learning from you and learning about the great work on which you are embarking. Please continue with your ground breaking beneficial work. Will be watching your career progress. Best wishes for health, wealth and happiness in your future. A big Fan!

Tara said...

Thank you so much for your very generous comment. I have been really overwhelmed by the amount of emails and private messages I have gotten about this post in the past couple of days. It really is a great feeling to know that many people who engage in self-injury have been sending this article to people in their lives they feel do not understand them and have been actually getting positive responses.

I really appreciate the vote of confidence. It means a lot. I have to say, at first I was a tad bit hurt by the above Anonymous comment. I considered deleting the it, but in the end I decided that I should keep it because every single bit of feedback is useful. If someone who actually engages in self-injury felt affronted by the article and misunderstood, I want to know. I just know to try and phrase things a bit differently next time or include something like a disclaimer that I am a professional and may not truly know what it is like, but would like to try and understand, might be useful. She also pointed out that I did not discuss other functions of SI, which was right on point. In fact, my old mentor (and practically my idol) wrote about different functions of SI that I only included in response to that comment, rather than in the body of the post. Oops.

In any case, I really appreciate you taking the time to read this blog and for your thoughtful response.

PS I'm also excited to have my very first fan!

Katy said...

Very interesting thoughts on a complex and fascinating phenomena. As a 'self harmer' and psychology student myself I was really quite impressed with the depth your insight, for example I've seen on a website discussing your article, the part describing negative self talk quoted effectively saying 'this person has seen inside my head!'

Given the insight earlier in your article I was however disappointed to see self harm once again linked with the assumption of self harm=BPD. I self harm, in the past severely, and I do not suffer from BPD. Many of the self harmers I know do not in fact suffer from BPD. This attitude frustrates not only because BPD carries (an unfair) stigma along with it, but also false diagnosis can be really quite damaging to patient care. Because of something someone wrote in my file back when I was 14 my first adult service therapist wasted time and energy a) believing I had BPD and b) doing tests which ultimately disproved this theory.

On the more complimentary side however I was truly fascinated by your concept of self compassion. This describes mine and evidently other peoples' experiences so accurately and I sincerely hope research takes place regarding this, because it is such a key and yet little known factor.

Tara said...

Hi Katy,

Thanks so much for the comment.

It is so nice to know that this article is being appreciated!

I'm sorry for the troubles w/ the mental health field that you've encountered. But honestly, I really couldn't agree with you more!! I've always thought that SI and BPD are very separate issues and finally I have some data that really suggest they are. I'm in the process of working on a scientific article now that suggests they should not be considered the same thing. It is currently in the process of being revised. I'm hoping the article will have some impact in future decisions of whether or not SI is only mentioned in manuals as being related to BPD.

I should definitely make that more clear in the post. Thanks for the feedback.

Yes, self-compassion is really is not discussed at all. It is nice to hear that you appreciate this piece.

Anonymous said...

First, I have to say, I think this article is really interesting. Thank you for trying to understand. This means a lot. I really wish you the best with your efforts.

One quick point is that while not every self-injurer feels this way, maybe some of the terms you use could be taken the wrong way.

But by and large, really fantastic article.

Tara said...

Thank you for the feedback. I'm definitely willing to make any adjustments that will make the post more palatable.

Anonymous said...

First, I would like to underscore all the positive feedback you received on your post. As for the mean spirited anonymous commentary, your reply was so honest, open and provided much insight into the compassionate professional you are. This post in particular is extremely useful in shedding some light to family, friends, loved ones of self-injurers. I myself will most certainly forward a copy of it to those in my life who are supporting me as I work to further my emotional regulation, distress tolerance and communication skills. Lastly, the connection between cutting and eating (or disordered eating) is an excellent and absolutely valid point.
Look forward to more from your blog. Thank you. :)

Tara said...

Thank you so much for the very encouraging comment. It is so appreciated.

The connection between cutting and eating is very important. In fact, I am interested in examining over-eating. I have been in the process of running a study on this since September.

Thank you for reading!

Tara said...

I just had a thought that maybe self-injury, like repetitive behaviors (that are seem in people with autism - who are somewhat physiologically disconnected from other people - and without autism alike) may have a similar effect on the Soothing and Contentment System. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Tara, I read your last blog post.

Instead of self-injury being done because the physical pain distracts from mental anguish, and the self-compassion afterwards being a chemical reaction to the injury, can't it simply be seen as punishment? There are a lot of self-destructive behaviour that doesn't involve physical pain, and not just physical damage but also doing or failing to do something in a way that they know will only increase their problems later. The most straightforward explanation would be that those problems are the purpose of the action, as if they for some reason ought to have more problems than they already do. Low self-esteem means judging yourself for not being or doing what you expect from yourself (or what others expect, whose authority you accept). And if they're judging themselves, being punished relieves the guilt. Immediately after, they can forgive themselves, just like you can forgive a criminal only after he has accepted his guilt and suffered his punishment. When wounds have healed but they still haven't managed to improve themselves to match expectations, there's a repeat sentence.

Tara said...

Thanks so much for checking out the blog! Very astute points and an excellent question.

First, other maladaptive behaviors like excessive drinking, smoking, etc, are certainly destructive, but they're largely not direct and deliberate attempts to destroy one's own body tissue without intent to die - which is the definition of self-injury.

All of these different types of behaviors have different functions at different times. It is quite complex and elusive to us researchers at times.

In addition to self-punishment, through extensive research, we've identified a few other reasons why people engage in direct self-injury - to automatically stop the pain, to feel something when feeling completely dissociated and spaced-out, to get out of doing something, or to gain attention. While some people want to punish themselves, some have other primary reasons.

But I really agree with you that self-punishment is an enormous component of direct self-injury. And the idea of being able to carry on after one has suffered the consequences is certainly interesting.

I ran a study where I asked people to come in to the lab and leave wearing heart and respiration monitors under their clothes for several days while they went about their daily lives. We were able to look at what happened on physiological level while people engaged in self-injury in real time during their daily lives. As it turns out, they immediately get a huge sense of relief, which provides support for the idea that people cut to alleviate emotional pain, without necessarily intending it as punishment.

Anonymous said...

Tara, I thought of another thing besides the punishment-forgiveness mechanism - if someone who has previously been regularly abused continue with self-abuse, could it be because the fear and constant anticipation of the next (unpredictable) instance of abuse was more anguishing than the abuse itself? Each instance would then bring the relief of knowing that there would be some time before the next instance. If the person later still carries that fear, then self-infliction could trigger the same feeling of temporary safety.

Tara said...

Absolutely! I think of it using slightly different language; however, the concept is the same. If a person has been repeatedly neglected and abandoned, they come to fear real or imagined abandonment over time. In fact, there is a disorder that is partially characterized by this fear as well as self injury - Borderline Personality Disorder. People with this disorder often make frantic attempts to avoid this real or imagined abandonment by engaging in escalating cries for help like suicide attempts without real intent to die. It is thought that most of the time people engage in self-injury, they are attempting to regulate their emotions by getting rid of the negative feelings. The piece I added to with the blog is the self-soothing component. Both getting rid of negative feelings and adding the self-compassion serves to maintain the behavior in the future.

Courtney said...

Hi, I just wanted to say that this post is well written, and I appreciate it. A lot of what you say makes sense. There have to be multiple reasons to begin self-injury, as SI exists in many cultures around the world, and not just in the modern-industrialized ones.

And, just as a thought from an anthropology student, you seem to make a separation between humans and primates, when human are primates. Again, that's just me being an anthropology person rather than you being incorrect, because most people separate humans from primates and your meaning is understood.

Being someone who has been dealing with self-injury for 8 years now, this article really touches base with me. I've talked to a lot of professionals who just don't seem to get it. I (and I'm sure many others) appreciate you taking the time to attempt to understand this issue.

Tara Deliberto said...

Hi Courtney - Thanks so much for the comment! I really appreciate it. Exactly right.

Also quite right on the term "primate" - I added changed the term to non-human primates. Good catch.

I'm so glad it resonated with you - as a writer, this is very validating to hear. Thanks so much again for reading.

Katherine S. said...

I am a 33 year old mother to a 9 year old girl. I was molested for a majority of my childhood. I am currently in an emotionally/verbally abusive marriage with my husband of 12 years. I can't tell you when I started cutting myself, but I can tell you that it has become an issue for me within the last year or so as I seem to be doing it more often. I always use my fingernails to dig into my skin until I break the first layer of skin. I will then rub the raw area of skin to peel away the broken skin. I usually do this in areas that are not visible to others (i.e. back, hips etc). I always put a bandage and ointment on the wound. This may not make sense, but when I do this it is painful, but at the same time it does not hurt. I am currently seeking professional help for depression/anxiety etc & they believe that I do this to relieve stress. I tend to keep my emotions to myself and I bottle up everything, so this seems to be my outlet? I just recently told this to my therapist, because I was too ashamed to admit it. Any advice you can give to me would be greatly appreciated. I realize that I need to learn better ways to deal with stress. Thanks.

Tara Deliberto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Deliberto said...

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for writing. It sounds like you're really going through a rough period. Sorry that this is the case right now. If you haven't already, I would mention it to the therapist you're seeing now.

While your therapist may be adequately prepared to help you with this, unfortunately, self-injury is not well-understood by many. As such, you may end up being best off with someone who specializes in Dialectical Behavior Therapy - it is definitely worth looking into. You can find a professional by going to www.abct.org, clicking on "find a therapist" and select Dialectical Behavior Therapy on the checklist below. Another great resource is S.A.F.E. Alternatives at http://www.selfinjury.com/.

I hope this helps.

Katherine S. said...

Thank you Tara. I will look at the sites you suggested.

Brian said...

This article is indeed very helpful. I'm new to cutting and find it to be a relief. I unlike most started at 34 and am a middle-class male with 3 young kids...not really fitting to the norm here. I didn't start cutting to escape or soothe emotions (this is however the result) I actually started to get away from the other thoughts. Thank you for your work...keep posting.

Tara Deliberto said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks.

Some people in my field might consider getting away from thoughts to be the same thing as soothing, but it really does seem - as you pointed out - that the two actually seem to be different constructs. Thanks very much for your post.

Also, if feel that this behavior is something you would like to stop (or for any other reason) the best place to find quality psychologists is at http://www.abct.org/Members/?m=FindTherapist&fa=FT_Form&nolm=1

My Best,
Tara

Ann said...

When I was about 13 years old, my depression was in full swing. My arm looked like a sliced up piece of meat, making my friend who discovered it scream bloody murder. It made me feel relaxed. It didn’t help that my first real boyfriend had just broken up with me and now my parents were divorcing. I blocked out most of my childhood, plus with the way my brain sequences things, it’s hard to keep memories straight. My stepmother, who was my nanny from ages 5 to 9, informed me that as a child, my mother seldom took care of me. I was merely an accessory of sorts; in fact, she couldn’t go a week without dropping me with the nanny, her sister, or my hard-working father. She would’ve rather gone out and drink like a sorority girl. I’m now 17 and even before 13, I was on SSRIs and antipsychotics such as Abilify, Prozac, and now currently, Lexapro. Depression is a hard thing to cope with, but the strongest survive. You can’t fix it with a prescribed band aid and move on. Its an ongoing battle that no one should surrender to.

Vesta said...

Thank you for such an illuminating article. I am aware that some people who have self-harmed (cutting)in the past have turned to BDSM practices (e.g. whippings) as an alternative strategy to release mental anguish, with good effect. Can you shed any light on this? Thank you.

Tara Deliberto said...

Thank you so much for reading. I have not researched this particular transition and I am not aware of the literature on this; however, what I can say is there is likely a mental association between pain and pleasure formed that has powerful physiological benefits of reducing anxiety for many people. This is definitely a topic worth studying in the future. Thanks so much for the question.

Nick said...

First, I'd like to thank you for writing this article, I'm sure it helps shed some light for uninformed people.
I'm fifteen, going on sixteen soon. I cut myself, for a multitude of reasons, although I don't fit the typical "emo kid" stereotype. I'm fun, outgoing, I love sports, I have tons of friends, and I'm friends with many kids of kids, stoners, ravers, jocks, cheerleaders, shy people, etc, I'm also a devout Christian. I looked up reasons people cut for ways to put why I do it, and I've found a couple points in addition to the ones you've brought up, that might help future readers.
As I've said, I cut for different reasons. At first, it was pressure from parents for grades and stress; B's just weren't acceptable, even in math two years advanced, science a year advanced, zero hour orchestra, taking Japanese (a language much more difficult than, say, Spanish, or French,) and having to deal with a crazy Sensei, and Honors English/Social Studies. I'm not complaining, just giving you an idea of my schoolwork load. It started out as just digging fingernails into my skin. I also cut because of relationship problems. One girl who I'd been with for nearly a year and a half, and I truly thought I was meant to be with, because she helped stop my cutting, decided she was gonna stand me up on our Christmas date, and decide she was in a relationship with someone else. Other girls who I broke up with, or vice versa, I would cut to deal with loneliness and sadness.
Another stress-related cause of my cutting is my mother. She has so many health problems, I can't list, she has polycystic kidney disease, Fabry's disease, Uterian cancer, clinical depression, and having to do dialysis among others, causes me to worry about her health constantly, as most days she is unable to get out of bed. I cut to try to get rid of the overriding stress that fills my head, and as an expression of how powerless I am.
Another reason I cut, the most recent one, is my parents relationship. My parents fight constantly, they sleep on separate floors, and my dad belittles my moms health problems. My mom has cried in front of him, because of him, and he does nothing. They're on the brink of divorce, and if it wasn't for my little 11 year old brother, I would honestly tell them to divorce, they barely live together as it is. I found some emails in my dads Inbox (long story...) from her, responding to an email he sent. She said that he did not understand her depression, that she had nothing to talk to him about, nothing they enjoyed doing together, and she no longer felt any love. I found these an hour ago. I'm across the state, in Spokane staying at my aunt and uncles with my brother, and I feel so helpless, I start to cut. It's because through all these swirling emotions, P A I N cuts through them all and can make them go away.
Also, I'm not sure if you mentioned this, but some cutters, myself included, have a semi-physical addiction to it. The whole endorphins and adrenaline release things, and the relief, incredible relief, that we feel, keeps us coming back for more.
One final thing that I was disappointed in not seeing here(maybe you did and i missed it) was rage. In times of
extreme rage, I found the best way to calm down was to instead of lashing out and what or who I wanted to, I could cut myself until the desire to hurt something was gone.
Most cutters, like me, cut for a variety of reasons, and I thought it might be good for future readers to see some examples from an actual cutter. Great article!

Anonymous said...

What do you know about recent war veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn't start cutting till I came back and I can not stop. I don't know whats wrong with me but I see the sight of blood as beautiful and warming. I do not have a history of mental disorder nor anyone in my family. It's embarrasing when people see the scabs on my arms and it ashames me. I seek combat support groups and individual counseling but it does not work. What the fuck is wrong with me?

Tara Deliberto said...

Nick - thank you so much for leaving such a thoughtful post. Your comment about rage specifically resonated with me. We have focused on the reduction of anxiety specifically; however, anger reduction is also an important avenue to explore. Thanks so much again for reading. Sorry for my tardy response! I've been consumed with an eating disorder project as of late.

Tara Deliberto said...

To whomever posted on 7/16,

I've known a few returning war veterans; however, I haven't worked specifically on self-injury in this population. While support groups can be helpful for some people, I'm afraid that many do not teach actual skills for coping with specific behaviors like self-injury. The best advice I can possibly give you is to seek out Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Groups. Recent research has found that these groups alone, which are more like classes that include light homework, have been successful in decreasing these behaviors. Not all therapies are created equal. If you can, I would also recommend seeing an individual therapist with a PsyD or PhD who specializes in Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

Anonymous said...

I used to cut and seriously, it was just because of all the pressure put on me, I cut to relive stress, anxiety, panic, fear, and of course sadness, but I did it because I thought it might work not because I hate my self or my life. Psychology is quite confusing and therefore no one should act like they can put cutters all in one group. There are many different reasons and causes for people to cut, some more severe than others but we all do the same thing... Its not so bad anyway...

Anonymous said...

I used to cut and to be honest I wasn't sure why I did it. Some times I would do it as a punishment if I thought I hurt someone else. I think I did it more when I felt helpless. When I feel I have no use, it makes me so upset. I really want to do good things in the world. Recently I almost cave but I think about how long I haven't use cutting to cope stopped me. Other times I would cut when my emotions were high. Especially when I drank. I would get super drunk and do it and not remember until the next morning. I guess each person reasonings can be different but I do think it's to take away certain pain in your life. I really want to stop cutting forever because I hurt people in the past by doing. I hope other people who have to deal with it can get help.

Anonymous said...

Could it be possible that people cut because it makes them feel better emotionally, while also trying to get someone to show they care about them (the attention getting side)?

Tara Deliberto said...

Absolutely. There could definitely be multiple reasons or functions someone may engaged in self-injury.

Great question.

Anonymous said...

I cut myself. My parents and other gardians only found out months ago. My father cried, my brother was scared, my dads girlfriend wouldn't give me space after that. And my mother? She didn't know. I wasn't even talking to her at the time.
Anyways, I had all kinds of talks with all kinds of people. And even though I'm 13... I. Matured a lot in the next month since then. I talked to my mother again and inlightened my father and his girlfriend to stop fighting. I also showed my brother alittle bit about why I did it. And he stopped hating me and started treating me like a sister again.
I had been abused by my mother for years... and my brother who's 15 months older then me, never got hit. He realizes now that she ways wrong, but we had no one to go to back then. My mother ma.de us hate our father.
Now I'm back with my mom, but I still thinks she needs help. And we are going to give her help soon but I'm not telling her yet.
Anyways, my dads back to and on/off parent and friends and boyfriends have been scetchy latley. I used to cut cause I felt numb, and I felt usless. I didn't want to become the trash people treated me like. So I cute to make sure I was still human.
Later on. I stopped and came clean with my mother. She told me when I feel like doing it, it tell her... so I did. And she held it agianst me and said it was all her fault.
But a couple nights ago she came home and I had some friends over... she was getting fusterated cause she was drunk. I started crying because I was overwhelmed. And one of my friends looked down and covered her face cause I told her how hard it was that I couldn't cut... it was like she was dissapointed. So I went into my room and took out the razor blades I "told" everyone I had thrown away.she came into my room and there was blood every where. I couldn't help myself. So instead of her yelling at me she tood up next to me and with out a sound she wrapped her arms around me and told me she doesn't want to let go. She didn't want me to do this. And that she's never seen anything like it... even after that I can't help myself. I want too so bad.
Now, I cut cause it does realive pain. And emotion. Not cause I don't feel like anything.
I was going to show my dad this article that you wrote, maybe get him to understand alittle bit. Cause I will never for get his tears when he saw my scars.

secretangel25 said...

I will say as a 13 year old cutter I agree but I only got through half of the thingy. I like your thoughts but what about help for people who want it one second then the next second act like they don't (this is me) I attempt or gut at least once a week so idk what to do???

Tara Deliberto said...

Hi there,

I have a few posts to respond to. My apologies for the delay.

First, to the anonymous poster above - thank you so much for sharing your story here. I think it may help readers understand cutting. It sounds like your family life is pretty difficult. At the same time, I am glad to hear that perhaps some wounds are healing and your relationships are improving.

I really very strongly recommend that you find a family adolescent DBT group near you.

Especially with the right help, you can beat this.

Tara Deliberto said...

Second, secretangle25 - thank you for reading (even if you only made it through half of the article, haha).

Something to remember when you're starting to feel a bit better is this: without learning the proper skills, you may not be able to effectively weather the storm when it does come. Try to prepare yourself.

I very much recommend DBT. Try to find a group near you.

Anonymous said...

Some people don't do it for attention they do it because they are in pain. I started cutting when I was thirteen after the loss of my sister I was depressed I pushed everybody away my mom found out last year and checked me into the hospital she found journals of me saying stuff like I would write I'm worthless and stuff. When you cut please be careful. One thing I just realized when people hurt themselves their family's know it hurts them makes them worry my mom is terrified to leave me home alone some days I'm also terrified. Depression can really get to you, school does not help when there's so much drama and when people put you down you cant let it get to you makes you feel like their right, but their not they don't know you. But your friends and family do. They care about you and love you more than anything in the world they don't like to see you in pain. You have to be strong for your family, friends, and mostly yourself. When your feeling down write about it and not slice yourself up.

Tara Deliberto said...

Thank you for reading & the comment. Yes, some people are lucky enough to have supportive families. Unfortunately, other are not so fortunate. The important thing here, is that it really seems like you value the relationship with your family and your commitment to working through the tough parts of life. Thanks again for reading.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if this has already been answered, I'm in school and haven't had time to read all the commments. I am 17 and a cutter for the past four years. I feel I used to cut to release pain and, perhaps, still do to a certain extent. Thing is, I think the scars are cool. I know that sound terrible and I hate admitting that, but I just had to be honest for once in my life.

Tara Deliberto said...

Thank you for reading & leaving an honest and interesting comment about scars. I hadn't thought about this before, although I wrote something here about taking care of the wounds, that you might find interesting:
http://taradeliberto.blogspot.com/2011/02/cut-care-compassion.html

Alisa said...

Wow, I never really thought of those reasons for cutting! That link to your past post really helped put some things into perspective. I know that I need help.... Serious help. But so many people constantly tell me I'm perfect and I don't want to disappoint them with what I really am. I'm ashamed of my cutting and lying habits but am afraid of what will happen if I tell someone. I've always wanted to be someone to look up to and someone people can go to as a friend. How could I tell those I do help that now I need help? How can I face them?

Tara Deliberto said...

Hi Alisa - Thanks so much for your comment. I'm so glad I was able to help.

Letting go of seeming perfect is so hard, but so essential in my opinion. I'm certainly not sure what the best way to go about this is. I highly recommend going to a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist to help you sort things out. Most people are very unfamiliar with how to best help someone who is cutting, so I really recommend someone who knows more.

I hope this was helpful.

Thank you so much again for reading & commenting.

Jess said...

This is really great!

It is very simplified, but I think it's the best I've read! I'm 15 and I cut a lot. I'm kind of popular but I don't like that word, and I've had everything I could ever want. But, I had a lot happen as a little kid. I don't feel bad for myself a bit. Cutting makes the memories go away just as you said.(:

I'm glad people are finally educating people on this!!

God bless!

Anonymous said...

As a 14 year old cutter I'll say you are pretty accurate except that some people do it out of just wanting to. My friend will cut because she is over excited and it makes her calm. I cut because my dad is a skytsophrenic bipolar with sarcoidosis in his brain and that can get stressful in a teen. I already see a therapist but she still doesn't know that I cut. I tried to stop recently and lasted five days. I stopped because I am afraid that cutting is a sin. I started again because when I see something sharp I kind of get "razor happy" as my friends and I call it. I just can't think when I do it. A lot of my friends do it too. Some worse then me but not most. And not all is done by razor or blade. "needle scratch" works too. That's when you repetitively scratch with a needle untill you bleed. Hope the info helps.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I would like to say it's almost accurate.
I'm addiction to mutilating my skin from the rush of euphoria that enters my body when I do cut. I just relapsed after not cutting for a year. This wasn't just one to three little cuts on my arm like usual this was full blown, over 150 cuts all over my arm. I don't know what I did. I've just been feeling so horrible lately.
I've always hurt myself. When I was pretty young around eight, I'd hit myself on purpose. Then when I turned about ten, I started to cut myself with those wood carvers my mom had around the house. I've done it to try to temporarily numb myelf from the outside world, and my mom verbally abusing me. It's hard knowing I'm 18 now and I started cutting again. I feel hopeless.

Anonymous said...

Hey, great article. I definitely think it explained those reasons for cutting well.
I'm 17, and have cut myself for a while now. I'm really confused about it. I don't know why I do it and I don't undertand why I don't want to stop. I know i'm a perfectionist and I have bad self-esteem but so do most teenagers and they don't resort to this. I've always been very close to my family and we have no major issues. I do well in school, I've never been severely bullied. If I'm cutting when I have no real reason I worry how on earth am I going to cope when something bad really does happen? I feel really weak and guilty and ashamed about it.
I know it started because I started having trouble focusing and completing work for school. I sort of stopped caring because i think that's when I started to become 'depressed', and I was so mad at myself for not caring anymore at such an important time that I purposely scratched my skin out of frustration. I was kind of surprised by myself and from there it just became a habit to deal with anything and get relief from anger at myself. But now I'm especially confused because I made it through that stressful time, I don't think I'm 'depressed' anymore, but I still don't want to give it up. I don't really feel like it's a big deal and I would continue if it didn't confuse me and make me feel ashamed. Now all that's over, I still want to cut myself.. just to see my blood? Just for the sake of it? That's awful! What if I do r now for some really stupid reason! I feel so stupid! I really really don't want anyone to know- I do it on my hip, so I don't think it's for attention. I don't get it! It's like I don't want to let go. I threw my blade out a few days ago and I regret it now. I miss it. I don't think I'm crazy but I feel like such an idiot about this.
I'm sorry, I just really needed to share that. I've done so much reading to try to figure myself out and I feel like I need a chance to share.
I have no reason to cut anymore and it's just pathetic that I still want to. What I really want, or need, is to stop wanting to cut.
Thanks for reading my... whatever that was.

Anonymous said...

I really like what you've said about cutting. I know a lot of people who are seriously against cutters, saying how they're so evil and like the devil. I hate that. Most cutters have a reason to cut, they aren't evil.
I do have a quesion though. Do you think people who have panic attacks may cut to stop them? I used to cut, and I just recently learned that I have panic attacks. I think I used the pain to avoid having the attacks.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend,a 45 years old female with two kids 20 and 16. Her marriage is breaking up. And she just revealed to me that she is cutting herself. I am not sure how to help her.. I don't understand it, I asked her why and she can't answer the question, I asked if it makes her feel better and she can't answer that either. She just thinks that I am judging her. All I want to do is be there for her. I feel like her family should know what she is doing, but I don't want to break my promise, that I would not tell. I fear that she will cut to deep and kill herself. Any suggestion
A friend

Anonymous said...

Don't tell the tam unless she is in mortal danger or she wont share again.

Anonymous said...

thanks! i understand now. i was curious about cutting when me and my friend first saw the book cut in a scolastic flyer. i think im going to read the book now. thanks again! ♥

Anonymous said...

I realize that you haven't commented on this in a while, but I would like to share my own experiences, as I think they're pretty different from most people's. I, like many others, have cut my self. However, I an extremely careful when I do so. Instead of cutting deep marks that would leave scars, I cut incredibly shallow marks, so that you can barely see the cut. The only clear proof that it's there is a few drops of blood. I then put rubbing alchohol on a tissue and pat that on the scratch, causing a painful stinging sensation while simultaniously cleaning it out.

I also only cut myself in places where I already have stretch marks, as healing scratches tend to look very similar. In this way I keep people from worrying, and make sure that I don't leave any distinguishable mark on nh body in case I accidentally cut too deep.

Obviously, not cutting would be preferable, but after you do it once, it's natural to go back and do it again. I feel that if people are going to cut themselves, they should at least do it carefully.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you wrote this blog. It is hard for people to wrap their heads around the reasons for self injury, and I think your blog will help people on the outside understand what can lead to this behavior. As someone who was a cutter as a teenager, I can say that a lot of your insights applied to me and my situation. I started cutting at 13 after going through my parents' very nasty divorce and subsequent custody battle. When my father won custody, my mom basically removed herself from my life, and the emotional pain coupled with the normal emotional upheaval that comes with puberty was too much to handle, and I started cutting to cope. The physical pain, and the adrenaline rush, temporarily numbed the emotional pain. I had no desire for attention. No one ever knew except my closest friend, and my father who I did not tell but found out accidentally. It took years for me to completely stop, because I found myself going back to this habit during times of high stress or emotional pain. I have not cut in over 7 years, but unfortunately I have scarred myself badly in some areas, so I have a constant reminder of my terrible coping skills. Thank you for posting this blog so that those who don't understand and may pass judgment can hopefully gain some understanding and sympathy.

Tara Deliberto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara Deliberto said...

Wow! I published this post last February and am thrilled to still have comments on it over a year later. My apologies for not responding to the previous comments sooner.

Jess - thanks! Yes, it certainly is simplified. The real picture is likely much more complex, but the intention of this post was to help the general public / loved ones of people who cut understand it a bit better.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous poster from February 22, 2012 –

You bring up really excellent points. I think that over time, people may cut for less intense reasons than I described. Also, it makes sense that people may become too overwhelmed with positive / negative emotion and cut to self-regulate as well. For instance, people with bipolar disorder are thought to be really sensitive to reward – or in other words, they may get so excited when something good happens, that it is overwhelming. Considering self-injury in this way is ever so slightly different than ways we have in the previously published scientific literature, but I think it is an important consideration.

Also, I highly recommend disclosing this information to your therapist. It will likely help your work together. My warmest wishes to both you and your friends.
-Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous poster from February 24, 2012-

I’m so sorry to hear about your relapse & for my late response. I highly recommend going to see a therapist trained in either Dialectical Behavior Therapy or Cognitive Behavior Therapy. There are certainly really fantastic treatments out there who have helped a lot of people in a position similar to yours. Thank you for reading.

-Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous poster from February 26, 2012-

Thank you so much for the positive feedback & for reading. It is very much appreciated.

Considering the context, I am very limited in the amount of therapeutic help I am able to in this circumstance. Although, I can say that throwing the blades out certainly seems to be a great step the right direction. I can also imagine how frustrating and confusing this must be. I think many people find themselves in a position similar to yours. Sure, many people who cut have had a pretty rough past, but certainly not all of them.

Going to a therapist is not admitting defeat, it is getting help. I would highly recommend going to a dialectical behavior therapist (DBT) or cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT) and reading some of the books that are depicted at the top of this blog.
I truly have the warmest of wishes and I sincerely hope you will consider DBT / CBT treatment.

-Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

To the second anonymous poster from February 26, 2012-

Thank you so much for the kind comment & for reading.

This is certainly an interesting question. My guess is that the answer is pretty complicated. Of course I cannot say for certain how the two are related; however, it would make sense that there is some connection.

This seems to be a question for your therapist though! I would highly recommend going to see a dialectical behavior therapist or a cognitive behavior therapist. These treatments are very effective for both panic attacks and cutting.

-Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous poster from March 7, 2012-

Thank you for reading.

You concern for your friend is certainly moving. Apologies for the late response.

The extent to which I can answer this question is limited by the context; however, I would think that one of the best things that you can do is refer her to the type of therapist that would really be able to help with an issue like this. Dialectical Behavior Therapists (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapists (CBT) are the experts in this area.

Of course you can be supportive, but this is probably not the type of thing that can you can solve on your own. You might want to check out this website www.abct.org for professionals in your area.

Truly, the best of luck to you and your friend in sorting this out. I sincerely hope you consider seeing a DBT / CBT therapist.

-Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous poster from March 21, 2012-

Thank you! I hope you enjoy the book. Please feel free to write to me with comments or questions!

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous poster from March 28, 2012-

Thank you for reading & commenting.

While I would agree that cutting in a careful way is preferable to doing the same in an unsterile manner, the main goal of my job is to help decrease these behaviors all together! As such, I highly recommend DBT / CBT. You can find some great therapists on www.abct.org.

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous poster from April 5, 2012-

Thank you so much for reading and leaving this thoughtful comment.
I really am saddened having read a little bit about what you’ve been going through. There are ways of learning how to cope better with really difficult situations like these. Coping is a skill - just like any other – that you can get better at over time. Just like learning to play a sport is easier with a good coach, learning to cope is easier with a good therapist. I really recommend asking your parents if you can see a Dialectical Behavior Therapist or a Cognitive Behavior Therapist. These types of therapists are the most proficient in helping people reduce cutting.

My warmest wishes,
Tara

Lepazoga said...

Tara,

I don't know much about people cutting themselves. However, I had an interesting experience just now. I was with my 2 friends talking. And out of know where, I notice my friend's wrists (she's female btw). I didn't think anything of it, but I said are you cutting yourself? I feel like a complete ass because I asked it in a jokingly way because first of all, it didn't look like she was cutting (it looked like scrapes from a fall), but I still shouldn't have asked it in a jokingly way. And I thought to myself, this girl has no reason to cut herself, but who am I to say this because I don't know her personal life.

Anyway, I feel like a complete jackass for asking her that question. Is there anyway I can come to her and ask her about this, or should I just let it go?

Tara Deliberto said...

Hi there,

Thanks for reading & for leaving a comment.

First, I would say that it is hard to judge from the outside who may or may not be engaging in self-injury.

Of course, it is very difficult for me to give advice in this type of arena, but a general apology for not being as sensitive to any potential issues regarding self-injury may be an option, no? Again, it is very hard to give any type of advice! Sorry I can't be of more help.

Best,
Tara

Anonymous said...

@Lepa--

If you had said that to me (a cutter myself), I would look kindly on something that said that you didn't want to joke about another person's struggles, even if the people in the discussion didn't struggle that way themselves. Mostly something along the lines that you didn't intend to belittle, and for some reason, you just feel terribly about it.

I'm not by any means a professional. Let's just get that out there....

Mmkay, back to the issue at hand. It sounds like you're still a little concerned about your friend. I wouldn't pair this next part with the apology, but if she starts getting really negative, let her know that you're available to talk if she needs it. It helps a lot to know that there's someone--anyone--out there who wants you to see tomorrow.

That's not to say you should shoulder the psychological burden of someone profoundly depressed (stay healthy!), but maybe you can show that someone cares?

Again, I'm not a professional and don't mean in any way to lead you down a rocky path--depression is a tough disease to deal with, for all people involved. (And if you have a professional, listen to her first!) These are mostly just thoughts from someone who had been in the dark place.

Tara Deliberto said...

Thank you for reading and leaving this really thoughtful comment.

Anonymous said...

Hello Tara, I just wanted to tell you that you have actually helped me understand myself a little bit...the cutting because of self abusiveness was very accurate, and also you mentioned at the end it is to feel the emotional pain as physical pain...that is very true, for me at least. I cut so that I won't forget the bad things I have done..I want to feel that physical pain later in the day when I touch my side just so I do not forget what terrible things I have done. I will admit that emotional self abusive is a lot of it, and it is easy to recognize that after cutting, but before it occurs, you see no other way. You just want to feel better right now, but also never forget what you've done..a scar is a permanent reminder of the wrong you've done. It also just drives those worse thoughts away for a little while. It seems to be before I cut, I talk very darkly and critically of myself but afterwards, I return to my "normal" self, especially when messaging someone.

Thank you for this blog! It helped me find my own self a little, and I hope to see more from you soon. Hope some of my input helps you in some way.

Tara Deliberto said...

I'm glad to hear that you found this helpful. Thank you so much for reading and leaving this comment that may help us to comprehend this misunderstood behavior a but more.

I hope you were able to find some helpful resources on this site.

Anonymous said...

I read your article and I agree with what you are saing. I cut, I'm what is known as an impulsive cutter yet the symptoms that most people say that people that cut have are backwards for me.
I like to excell in school and be happy and cheerful. I might appear self-centered or consited to some but that' just my way of being able to not fall into a state of deppresion. I havent looked for help but I dont know how to find help without being a dissapiontment to my dad and family. I was alreday sent to counsiling once, and I dont want to have my record messed up becuase of my stupidity. Your article is good. :D

Snark Bait said...

I just stumbled upon this entry as I have just started these self injurious thoughts. I'm a stay at home mom, with no money or property to my name. I have no where to turn to when I have feelings of self loathing because I literally don't have anyone to talk to. I do have some friends and family I am close to but none that would want to subject to the drivel that I want to expose them to. I'm just tired of being helpless, tired of a loveless marriage to someone who takes drugs and feels no dedication to the happiness of his family. He hates me and thinks I over react when I tell him I'm hurt. It hurts so much that I want that pain that still lingers inside me to come to the surface. That's why I cut myself. Whatever it is you had mentioned above it made sense to me. But I can't afford to see a therapist. I have a special needs child that needs me. I've eschewed all social interaction because I've just become a shadow of my former self. I'm unhappy and I tired to suck it up for years now but without a release of these feelings of being forlorn its starting to eat away at my sanity. I know if I'm gone someone else will do a better job at raising my children because I'm just not a fit person anymore. It hurts too damn much.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree my frien cuts him self for forgiveness I really do want to help him but he can't control it when he's in pain and can't cope with it I have tried to help him but he won't listen he thinks every thing is his fault he makes me worry about him every day...

Adrian said...

Hi Sara,

I am currently a 21 year old psychology major and have had a best friend who has practiced SI. I had never been able to even remotely understand why a person would want to harm themselves, especially since I had never met another male self-injurer. Recently, I actually started engaging in it myself too, and was surprised as to how easy it was. I can see the attraction to it, as a way to express feelings because of numbness, to numb emotional pain, to try to understand others, and to serve as an indirect call for attention.I agree with you on the fact that people can practice SI for multiple reasons at any given time, and that each person's overall reasons for engaging in it are as unique as they are. Thank you for your blog, it very much helped me understand and connect some ideas I was searching for.

P.S. On a completely unrelated note, you're absolutely gorgeous!!! Women with brains and beauty make me melt XP. However, besides my obvious superficiality of others, I've been curious whether or not I fit the category of muscle dysmorphia or adonis complex.I felt the most happy with my body image when I was running 9 miles daily and had clearly defined muscles. I felt like I could compete with most other men and was way more confident with talking to women. The skinnier, but more muscular I am (like an abercrombie and fitch model), the happier I am. Maybe SI and the dysmorphia are related? If you know of any useful links or resources they would be much appreciated

Anonymous said...

I did and sometimes still do because life sucks people hurt other people just because we refuse to be them or because we dress differently or because our hair and our cloths are a different way and cutting doesnt take away the pain it just gives us something to do so we dont focus on what we have to for a couple of minutes

Anonymous said...

I starting cutting at the early age of 8 after being exposed to cutting from an older neighbor friend. I am now 36. I have always hid my cutting from everyone, which is emotionally draining. Last year I started seeing a counselor & recently I shared with her that I was cutting. She has given me other alternatives to try, for example: using ice, using rubber bands, listening to music, writting my feelings down & then tearing them up, use a red maker on my arms. All which I have tried, but I can't seem to stop cutting. Mostly I cut because of being numb or wanting to feeling something, but recently I cut out of anger. I went to counseling today & felt like such a failure because I had to wear a jacket to hide my cuts, I know she knows I have failed once again, hello it's 99 degrees outside! Luckily she is very supported & has never asked to see them after a cutting. I just wanted to share for those out there that are like me & are still struggling to stop! I know I will get better with the help of counseling & my doctor.Just a word of advice for someone that is still struggling to get help, it is such a relief when you finally tell someone. There are people out there & great resources like this blog that help us. Thank you.
Kel

GrayRabbit said...

I would like to say that it seems that you wrote this article with very good intent, but i agree with the second anonymous comment you got. i know you said they hurt your feelings but i beleive that for the most part they are correct. They were a bit bitter with what they said but they were being honest and that's the most you can ask for. Many people who self harm don't know why they do it, themself. I know i didn't. The answer you gave was sort of onesided, like there's one cause deep down. When I came to your article i expected to find out something i didn't know, or already think of. I was sadly disapointed. Did you ever think that someone could cut because they want to feel alive or to feel bad? Like if I felt bad about something and i wanted to felt bad on the outside as well. I was a cutter and i still am today, and I don't think anyone one can really understand the internal conflict of hurting yourself if you haven't gone through it. I think you should speak to many more people who self harm to understand them better. I would also like to say that therapy is not always the best thing. I think sometimes self harm comes from the frustration of not being able to say what you mean to another another person. Therapy would only make this worse. I know I have great trouble saying anything when it's about self harm. Please know I mean no disrespect, I just want to tell my opinion.

Tara Deliberto said...

To the person who wrote the anonymous comment on 5/8/12 - Thank you for leaving a note on this post. General counseling can be very effective for certain issues; however, there are different types of therapy that are particularly effective for depression / cutting, namely: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). My personal opinion is that they are worth considering! Thanks again for reading.

Tara Deliberto said...

Snark Bait -

Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, treatment can sometimes be expensive and your situation certainly sounds pretty tough.

Depending on the area you live in though, there are sometimes CBT and DBT services offered for free as part of a study. Options like this can be difficult to find, but are likely worth digging for. While you're searching for free treatment options, you may find some of the books on the top of this website helpful. Some books by themselves - e.g. Feeling Good - have been shown in research to aid in decreasing depression.

I hope this is helpful!

My best wishes,
Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous reader from 6/12:

Thank you for reading and leaving this comment. It makes sense to me that cutting takes away the pain in the moment.

-Tara

Anonymous said...

Thamk you so much i am a 13 year old cutter and i know i need the help im scared of what my mom will say she does'nt understand why people do this but telling her that her daughter needs help becuse she cuts and burns eveyday.......hard im pretty much a chain cutter i do one feel worse about it do another and then another

Tara Deliberto said...

To Kel from 6/13:

Thank you very much for leaving this comment. I've been thinking about it a lot over the past couple of days, actually. I I have quite a lot to say about it.

First, I can only imagine how draining it is hiding cutting from everyone. At the same time, I'm glad you're in treatment. Some of these techniques sound DBT-like, but I'm not sure if you're in DBT proper. This would include individual sessions with a DBT therapist where you track behaviors with a diary card and attend weekly skills training sessions.

There are a couple ways to treat self injury w/ talk therapy. One is to deal directly with the cutting behavior itself by using the techniques you mentioned (e.g. holding an ice cube). Another is to deal with the underlying emotions that lead to episodes of self-injury by practicing noticing thoughts, tolerating distress, handling interpersonal situations, and regulating your emotions.

Without learning these four types of skills, my best guess is that the techniques that try to directly alter the behavior of cutting (e.g. rubber band, ice cube, etc.) would not be effective for most people.

To me, it seems that these techniques directly aimed at shaping behavior slowly away from actually cutting (e.g. holding an ice cube to feel the pain that comes with intense feelings of cold instead of cutting) are somewhat necessary, but definitely not sufficient to treat a behavior that has been occurring for a while - in your case, 18 years.

Second, I'd like to address the fact that you originally got the idea to cut from someone else. In a paper I published with M.K. Nock in 2008 (but have not written about here yet), we discuss where people originally get the idea to cut (among other topics).

In my early days of doing self injury research about 7 years ago, I thought that where someone got the idea to cut initially might influence how often they cut, for how many years they cut, etc. For instance, I thought that maybe if a person spontaneously started cutting w/o any external influence that they would cut more frequently and for a greater number of years than if the behavior was learned from someone else. Conversely, if a person got the idea to cut from someone else, they may only try it once or twice before giving it up forever. Of course in hindsight, this unfortunately is not the case for people who get the idea to cut for someone else. This is extremely important information because it tells us that people can be influenced to engage in self-injury. Hopefully there is something we can do about this prevention wise.

[Side note: I very much enjoy being proven wrong by facts or a well-reasoned / explained argument. Of course, these are the times where we learn the most.]

Anyhow - third, I'd like to address the reasons you cited for cutting, namely: 1) feeling numb, 2) wanting to feel something, and 3) anger.

Nock & Prinstein published papers (2004 & 2005) about reasons why people engage in self injury. You're not alone in cutting because you're feeling numb and want to feel something. You're also not alone in wanting a negative feeling to go away - in your case, anger is one of the emotions. From what I remember (it has been a while), not too many people report wanting to get rid of anger, per se, but this makes sense to me. The connection between anger and self-injury is particularly interesting. I'll be thinking about this.

In short, three areas addressed in my 2008 paper with Matt Nock were: 1) how people start engaging in self-injury, 2) why the behavior is continued, and 3) how / when it stops. Your comment addresses all three in an enlightening way. Thanks so much for reading.

My very best,
Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

To the anonymous reader from 6/17 -

Although I cannot give specific information about what to do, seeking out a treatment is always advised. Seeking treatment is always the best option though. [You can go on abct.org or Behavioral Tech's website to find a therapist]

I truly wish you the best of luck finding a good CBT or DBT therapist.

Thanks for reading & leaving a comment.

My very best,
Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

My apologies for the comments being out of order here! I realize the comment section may be a bit difficult to read. I never expected this many comments on a single post over a year after it went up!

Tara Deliberto said...

To Adrian, from 6/11 -

Thank you for reading. I'm glad you found the post helpful.

Yes, self-injury certainly seems to numb emotional pain for people.

You mentioned wanting to understand others - this isn't something I remember coming across before. Do you mean that you wanted to understand people who also cut? I'm curious if this is a reason you started engaging in self-injury. [I talk about this in a comment I left earlier today in response to Kel]

Interestingly, from what I understand at this point, dysmorphia is different than body image. An example of dysmorphia might be someone who is obsessively focused on how big their nose is.

On the other hand, wanting muscles to be bigger, wanting less fat, and seeing yourself as unattractive are more body image issues.

I am actually considering this link a great deal. In fact, I have been working on a new blog for months now that I plan to launch in February 2013 devoted to eating disorders. On this blog I talk about the connection between self-injury and body image issues.

There is a paper by Muehlenkamp, Swanon, & Brausch (2005) that shows the following progression of events:

1. If we are objectified by others
2. We start objectifying ourselves
3. We form a negative body image
4. We get depressed
5. And then some of us may even start doing things like cutting or burning our own skin

In general objectifying other people and ourselves by focusing on how we look is a pretty slippery slope. I try to avoid it as much as possible, actually. It serves me well.

Anonymous said...

hi, i would just like to get some advice on something...I have been really stressed and heard that cutting works so i tried it about two months ago and it felt great, it did it again but then i told myself its a stupid thing to do. Today I was in a very painful situation and without a second thought I got a razor and started cutting my forearm over and over..my emotional pain instantly went away and I didn't feel any pain at all from the cuts because of the overwhelming emotional feelings in my heart..I don't want to become an addict but when i did it today I didn't even think twice about it..What can I do to prevent this from occuring..

However, in the past I have taken sleeping tablets to get rid of the pain.I became addicted to it and with time I stopped. I need something to make the pain go away ...lovely article

Tara Deliberto said...

Thanks for reading & commenting.

I would highly recommend seeking a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or a Dialectical Behavior Therapist. Not all treatments are created equal. You can find a therapist in your area at www.abct.org if you're an American.

I really hope this helps!!
Best,
Tara

Words Hurt said...

I would like to begin by saying thank you for writing this. Obviously, you can't cover all the different reasons people cut but I believe you covered a few important ones. I love the stress you put on the difference between believing the thought and it just being a thought. For years I didn't question my self-talk which perhaps didn't help me.
I found your article by looking for why people cut. I cut myself, but am not entirely sure why. All I really know is that it makes me feel better, just for a little while. And like one of the earlier commenters, I like the scars.
I think you have written a great article, especially if you've never cut, or never felt the urge (though I cannot believe anyone could be like that).
Thank you once again. I'm very tempted to keep this article and show my parents, because I feel it explains some of the reasons I cut.
:)

Tara Deliberto said...

Dear Words Hurt,

Thank you so much for reading & leaving this thoughtful comment.

Yes, understanding the distinction between having thoughts and believing thoughts can be incredibly important.

Your comment (along w/ previous ones) about scars is certainly interesting to me. I think this idea is worth exploring further.

Again, thanks so much again for reading & I'm glad you found this helpful.

My Best,
Tara

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the reasons you offer behind self harm. As someone who dealt with it myself, I can tell you (at lease in my case and most I've heard) that's it's not a case of self esteem or self disgust. I consider myself attractive, intelegent, and an overall good person. I was jaded though. I couldn't feel. I started living life in the simple state of being. That's why I cut. I wanted to feel something . . Anything. I don't think badly about myself at all, I just didn't want to feel numb anymore. I think that's the real reason behind a majority of people who hurt themselves.

Tara Deliberto said...

Thanks for reading and leaving this comment - you make a really important point.

In a papers written by my old boss in 2004 / 2005, the "functions" or reasons that people self-injure are fully discussed. While many people report engaging in self-injury to take away pain (what we actually call "negative reinforcement" - a term misused by the public all of the time). On the other hand, many people engage in self-injury to feel something (what we call "positive reinforcement".

Now, it gets a bit tricky because sometimes when people feel a lot of emotion, they then start to feel numb. [They can feel a lot of emotion because they're just built this way. Alternatively, someone can become sensitive to emotional experiencing after experiencing abuse / trauma. And of course, one can certainly have a predisposition to experiencing a lot of emotion coupled with some traumatic life experiences.]

I can write a whole post about positive v.s. negative reinforcement taking into account that people go numb when they feel too much.

It is true that a person may not necessarily need low self-esteem intentionally cut themselves, but perhaps a propensity to feel a lot of emotion (to the point where you don't feel any) may still come into play.

At the end of the day, self-injury isn't just about getting attention, but regulating one's emotions - either turning the volume down on the emotion, or turning the volume up after one has become numb.

After receiving your comment, I'm thinking about either revising the above post or at least creating a new one to fully address this issue. Thanks so much again for reading and leaving this thoughtful comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi ive been a what i call a Carefull cutter..I cut where no one can see upper legs and stomach i clean with hot soapy water which intenseives the pain feeling .. I usally only Cut myself to Stop Me From Serously Hurting Someone Else i really dont cut about me feeling im worthless and stuff like that its when my anger is So intese i scare myself that i may seriouse hurt or worse someone else and That is NOT right to me to HURT someone else becaurse im so Angr...So any way thats mostly the resone i Cut is to save inocent peoples form getting hurt..

Anonymous said...

I'm a cutter well I haven't done it in several months. But I would like to give you my thought process. I get to a point where I just can't take anymore anything and at that point when I see the blood roll out (of huge gaping wounds, not razor cuts) at that point the blood is all my pain. Like the poison is being extracted. It gets all the bad everything out and then I feel much better. As for worrying about the injury insteadve what made me do it that's not my case I don't care about the injury I cleanup the blood and slap on a bandage then its back to normal. Till the next time I get to a point where I can't handle anything again then the process of releasing the poison stats all over ...just so you have some thought process of another person. Feed back on what you think about what's happening and why I do this would be appreciated.I didn't start doing it until I was in my 30's and the only reason why I haven't done it lately is that the scars are huge and I can't hide it anymore.

Anonymous said...

what about people that... cut for punishment, punishing themselves for having a lack of power, lack of power to help people, lack of power to stop the bullies, people who also cut when they are pissed off and want to hurt someone? what about those people(me...)and what about quitting this, this, habit??

evil said...

I am a 51 year old male I cut my self to help with the evil thought that i get, i think the devil is trying to take my soul and he is almost there, cutting myself help delay him taking over me I know sooner or later and most likely sooner he will sucsead, I fill more evel each day that goes by, to night when he come I will let him in. I am evel I am him.

Anonymous said...

Unlike most, I dont see it to be too bad. Clearly it is not healthy. But it is the only thing thats kept me from suicide, and im glad for that. I just need to find a way to stop.

Anonymous said...

I was reading this because I wanted to try and understand why I do this to myself. It's very strange for me, for one, to be telling the internet that I do injure myself, but it's even more odd in my current situation. Recently, I haven't been hurting myself because I feel like I don't deserve to feel relaxed and happy. When things were looking like they were going to get better, the number and intensity of cuts increaced. Now, though, I just can't because if I begin to feel happy it feels wrong. I guess it can be seen as a good thing that I've stopped, but I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this...just curious about the whole psychologist-patient confidentiality and how something like cutting falls into that...I know that psychologists have to report individuals who are either a danger to themselves or someone else, so what happens when a patient tells their therapist they are cutting?

Tara Deliberto said...

To the seven people who left comments this week: I will respond to each of you within the next couple of days. I'm up to my ears in patient work right now! Apologies for the delay. Thank you all so much for reading and leaving such thoughtful comments.

My very best,
Tara

Katie said...

I suppose I would be considered a self harmer, as I generally slice the skin on the back of my wrist with either scissors or a pocket knife (depending on what's closest) and then wear bracelets to cover up the cuts and scabs until they heal.

I'm still confused about why I do it. I know that it really does tend to take my mind off of what I think about myself, to punish myself, or sometimes simply because I want to be rebellious (which I know is stupid because though I like looking at it, I make sure to cover them around people). Also, I sometimes do it thinking about someone and mentally telling them, "Look how upset you made me, I hope you feel guilty about it," though I know I would never show that person the marks or let them know about it. Hell, sometimes it's because of the pressure, being a straight A student and the president of Student Council.

Honestly, I'm not really sure the reason for me posting this. I think it's because I'm so confused about WHY I do it. Though I realize that people do actually somewhat like me (I have won Prom Queen and other "popularity contests, as disgusting as that sounds), I have been feeling lonely a lot. But it sometimes just depends.

I can't get help because I don't want people to label me, and my counselor for school is my mother, and I don't want her to know.

Please provide me with some insight on my situation (I have no idea) and maybe give me some information on what I should do?

P.S. Sorry for rambling, I'm a little scatterbrained right now.

Anonymous said...

I have daughter in la tha cuts herself and has for years. My son is in the army and gets deployed frequently. They have a two year old child. She denies cutting herself since she was young but has been take to the hospital a couple of times. Should I be worried about the safety of my grandchild?

Tara Deliberto said...

Regarding the previous comment: being that I have very little information, it is hard to say with any degree of certainty that a negative event will or will not occur. With that being said, typically, cutting occurs among other symptoms that can be concerning. I would highly recommend reading on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), help educate your family on this treatment, and try to find a DBT provider in your area.

My very best,
Tara

AMP said...

I have been a cutter since around the age of 11 and I am currently 35. I have been doing this off and on all these years. I have my good days and my awful days and the unbearable days. I am currently in a rut now and am back to cutting. It seems like to me once a cutter, always a cutter. I stopped for many years but went right back to it. I used to look at it as almost like a drug. When I personally cut, it does make me feel better. It takes the edge off. I do feel guilty afterwards though which kind of starts the whole cycle over. Then you have to cover up. I swore after I had my first daughter that I would not do this anymore and I currently have a 17 year old daughter and a 15 year old daughter and I did quit for a few years but it came back. I don't do much for myself and this is one thing I can do for myself. I know I hurt my husband and I'm sure he's scared cause he doesn't understand what I'm going through. I have been diagosed with depression, borderline personality, and bi polar disorders. These past few months especially has been extremely hard and I'm back to doing it for a while now. Sometimes I actually do want to kill myself when I do this but the majority of the time, it's just a release. Does it hurt? Sometimes it does hurt but the pain feels good at the time. I do want to get help but my husband would rather me not. Because last time I was on meds for this, it made me a zombie. It did help with cutting but it was like someone else was controlling me and I wasn't myself. It was like I was just existing in the world. These past few months have gotten so bad that I just don't want to do anything at all!!! Just getting out of bed in the morning is a job. What I have noticed is anyone without this disorder does NOT understand. They think you can just change how you think and how you feel and that is just not true on so many levels. I've been told just think happy thoughts - sounds easy but to someone suffering like this, it's not. I believe mental disorders are one of the worst you can have. I would rather have a different disease than a mental one. The sad part I was told this is hereditary and I believe my daughter may be starting this as well. I just don't know what to do or who to turn to. Most people look at this as not a big deal but once someone commits suicide, they seem surprised.

Tara Deliberto said...

Thanks for reading & commenting.

I'd like to address that "getting help" appeared to have primarily involved medication. It can be the case that you can learn specific coping strategies in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that can help decrease the frequency of cutting. I very highly recommend trying to find a DBT provider in your area. Check out www.abct.org or Behavioral Tech's website.

I really encourage you to do so & I hope you find DBT helpful.

My very best,
Tara

Anonymous said...

if someone wanted to talk to u or ask something how would they be able to contact u?

Tara Deliberto said...

Hi there,

You can email me at tarad1984@gmail.com, but of course, email is not a 100% secure means of communication, so just be warned.

[I should also note that I cannot provide therapy/ give advice over email & am not currently accepting any new patients, although that may change in the future. I mainly work with people who have eating disorders these days.]

All that being said, feel free to email me.

Best,
Tara

Anonymous said...

Very informative article, I pretty much assumed many of the same reasons that you had. I myself am not a cutter, as I have found that cutting would not solve any of my problems, and could even make problems worse if someone close to me would have discovered my cut marks. Going through middle school and high school as a young girl, I have found that several of my friends have either been "emo" or have attempted or contemplated suicide at one time or another. I'm currently going through a depression which is affecting my schoolwork and well being, and I'm losing many hours of sleep. I've contemplated cutting, and previously suicide, but I found that I'm recovering from my depression which had started up in the middle of junior high. As a senior in highschool now, I can say that I'm now a lot happier and I'm looking more positively on life. I still have a few friends who had the same issues that I did, and I think that it's my job to help them now.

Tara Deliberto said...

Thanks for reading & leaving a comment. I think it is important to be reminded that although people can sink into depressions, these symptoms wax and wane. It really can feel like it will never end when you're in it.

[As I've mentioned a bunch of times here: if you ever think you and your friends could benefit from therapy, look into Dialectical Behavior Therapy - it is effective for cutting.]

Anonymous said...

Hey there! Thanks for the text, i found it very intersting and it really helped me figure some things out... i never cutted myself, i dont suffer from depression or any other mental disorder but i have a friend that cuts herself and she's trying to stop but time to time i do see some new marks and that makes me very worried. I dont know how she feels, i wanted to help her but i dont think i can, i dont know how... and that makes me really upset. we've talked about it and i'm sure she doesn't do it for atention because she never tells me when she does and she hides it very well, i oftenly only realize it after days, but i pay lot of atention to that. she says it doesnt hurt... its strange: the cutting seems to cheer her up, its one of the signs i most pay atention to... if she seems very happy and jumping around and laughing, its usually cause she did it again. i think that the only thing that can help her is if she find something to replace the cutting, something that makes her truly happy. and honestly, the only situation i see her happy is when she's with this boy at school that she likes a lot... i think she would stop cutting if they got togheter, but she'd start the cicle again if whatever happened to the relationship... do you have any suggestions of how I can help her?

Skollon said...

It's amazing how powerful our minds are, isn't it? Amazing how a few simple thoughts can lead to a lifetime of a negative self-image and even so much as physical harming. I am another who does partake in self injury, and like you said in this article, it is indeed a way of escape/relief in stressful situations.

I first started this after my dog passed away, whom was my best friend at the time because I had lost the ability to socialize with other people after moving to a new town far away from the big city I used to live in. Animals were my friends, and when mine was taken away from me, I found relief in harming myself. That was back in 2009 when I was a sophomore in highschool.

As a sophomore in college, I find that currently, I still cut, but less frequently, as I am often too busy with sports/studying to find the time to do it. However, when the feelings of dread and depression hit you, it is hardly avoidable, as most 'cutters' would probably agree.

My situation is that, I think, I am an obsessive thinker. I stress on things way too much. Just last night, actually, I was out at the bowling alley with my friends, having a wonderful time. After a while, a woman started complimenting me and before I knew it, I was being hit on by a lesbian. I am not a lesbian (and I don't have anything against them), but once I got back to my dorm room, here was my thought process:

I went out with friends (something I normally don't do) - I got hit on by a lesbian - I got hit on by a lesbian because I look like one myself - I'm not trying to look like one, I'm just trying to be myself - being myself gets me noticed by that type of crowd - I don't want to be noticed and labeled with that type of crowd - I should dress more 'girly' - I don't like dressing that way, I like how I dress already - but doing so gets me noticed/labeled - I'm stuck...I don't want to change, but if I don't change I am labeled and thought of as weird or ugly - I am not attractive - I am so ugly - I hate myself - why won't I change? - I don't want to change, but I do want to change, but I won't change - why can't I just be a normal girl who wears cute outfits and like that I dress that way? - this all happened because I went out and socialized, which I don't normally do - I should stop hanging out with my friends, then people who don't know me won't judge me based on my appearance...

And during all that while, I usually turn to cutting while I am having a fit of rage, tears streaming down my face.

It's a confusing predicament, and most of my self harming sessions begin with something so simple as being hit on by someone who most girls usually aren't hit on by. Anything can trigger it, and even when I feel like I've been happy for weeks and having done a thing to hurt myself, it can attack just like that.

I still don't understand it myself, and your article actually opened my eyes to a few things. It does make sense that endorphines would be released by self harm, and thoughts are indeed redirected when you cut. The physical pain blocks out the mental pain, which is far worse than the physical pain ever is. But when your physical body is injured, your mind instantly switches over to focus on that, and that's why we do the things we do, to avoid the mental suffering we feel, or at least that I feel.

Anyways, I just wanted to give my own input a little and say that your article is pretty spot-on for the most part. It's interesting hearing someone's opinion from the outside world of cutting rather than from another who actually partakes in self harm. I am the type who does not tell people that I do this to myself (my cuts are on my thighs, somewhere that no one ever sees), so this article was quite insightful for me and gives me another way of looking at what I do.

Anonymous said...

Hello - I found your article while researching why my 22 yr old son screams/swears regularly in his room. He is a college grad with a good job, but spends his free time on the computer screaming/swearing. I think this is a stress relief for him, same as cutting. He can function in society, but when left alone, he turns into this raging animal. Any attempt to talk to him at that point results in mean and abusive language, stating that people are terrible and that he is a good person. He was diagnosed with High Functioning Aspergers in middle school. He refuses to acknowledge any problem or seek any help. I welcome any comments or suggestions.

Anonymous said...

If you are cutting simply because you enjoy the feeling of it, which is what you said, well my friend there is a word for that ...masicistic. you say you basicly had a normal life and no real reason to cut...you were doing for attention and that all there is to it.
I've been cutting on myself since I was eight. I was abused in many horrible ways during my entire upbringing. I blamed myself for all of it...I mean why else would these bad things keep happening to me.
Cutting made me feel better. I don't know much about endorphens or the science side of it all but I know as soon as I felt the razor tear through my skin, I instantly felt clear headed.
I think this article was insightful and I don't care if the writer was trying to get attention or not. The info was helpful and you need to pull your head out of your ass.

Yatre said...

How do I know if my wife needs DBT? She cuts but not too much and it seems to me that it falls exactly where you said it did. She does it to feel something else when she can't cope with her feelings (she is quite intense). Should I just tell her to hold an ice-cube instead and see if that works or do we really have a problem ? I personally felt very dissapointed when she did it last time. It seemed unreasonable, yes I went out for a few hours with some friends but I had spent the previous two days with her. Is this too much? Is it normal ?

Anonymous said...

I recently found out my husband has been cutting himself. He had told me a long time ago that he did it as a teen but that he didn't anymore. We have 3 children (14,10 and 6 months) and I don't want them to see the cuts or blood. They shouldn't have to be exposed to that.
I recently found ojt he had done something pretty bad. He didn't physically harm anyone else but it was bad enough that I have considered leaving him. It was after this that I found ojt he started cutting again. He doesn't think it should bother me because he doesn't think he is doing anything that affects me. I have told him everything he does affects me because I love him. I do love him but it is getting to be too much to handle. He refuses to seek professional help because he views people who do or those who take meds for depression as weak. My father is a counselor by profession but I don't want my family to think poorly of him or to embarrass my husband by sharing this with family so I haven't told them.
I want so badly to help him but

Anonymous said...

I'd just like to thank you for your effort in trying to get people who don't participate in SI to understand why we do what we do. I'm on the road to recovery and its been a veryy bumpy ride. Ive had to deal with a lot of name calling and my life will seem as if it isn't worth it. I have NSSI (Non-Suicidal Self Injury) so I guess my reasons for cutting would be based around my emotions. Being in middle school, things can get painful and its easy to want to give up. It seemed to me that cutting felt...good in a sense. I know it sounds insane but at the time my razor was my best friend. I've been betrayed,abused,harassed,and just flat out depressed. I'm posative that my best friend played a major roll in my sanity. When she moved on the day of my birthday, I was crushed. She had represented everything good in my life and she just up and left. I've had a fairly interesting life, and I feel thus post will help me explain why I've done what I did in a very understandable way.

Anonymous said...

I cut because sometimes, there is just too much pain inside me. And by "opening my self up" I guess I hope some of it will go away. I also cut because I believe I "deserve" to hurt. I currently have BITCH carved in my right thigh. It's very clear and very readable, and yes, it's a label I believe about myself. I am not a young person. I am a college graduate, have a devoted husband, my child just graduated from college; but the pain inside nullifies any happiness I should be feeling. It is a real "why bother" cycle. Thank you for sharing your take on cutting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tara
I am Patrick, I am doing a Masters in Public Health and I live in South Africa.
I know people (two) who cut and I just thought about doing my MPH research on the topic. I am a medical doctor but with very little notion of psychology.
I suspect its a public health issues often ignored in our context and I would like to approach it from an epidemiological perspective.
Could you please advise me on how to go about it???
You can contact me on patoungassa@yahoo.fr
Thank you very much in advance.

Anonymous said...

this blog was very eye opening to me, and i would like to thank you for trying to understand why people cut them self. another point i would like to add is in this year there has been more teen and adult cutters due to bullying then the last few years. the things these bullies are saying and doing can and do push a person to cutting, for reasons like, not knowing how to say somethings not right so they use cutting as a way to show that something is wrong but just dont know how to say that something really is wrong. or there is those who believe what the bully is saying and are punishing them self like you said.. its really all on who the person is. but again i really did love this post cant wait to read more.

Anonymous said...

well to the people who think that they are the worst wether they of any religion they should think that god has send us to the world to ful fill some of his jobs maybe they are simple but in the eyes of god they are important and therefore he gave us a body so that we fulfill our jobs not to cut and harm ourselves on purpose

well this is a funny way of making you feel better but i do this some times tell urself the worst bad words u kno u will suerly feeel better and for the next time think that i have to improve my mistake
things will go cool
love ur site sara it is realy informative

Anonymous said...

I cut myself. Sometimes I show the scars but not for attention. Its to show people that I'm in pain. Of course they don't do anything. I mean its not their problem right? Wrong. They just make it worse. My friends see it. My family sees it. They just make it worse whenever they stand by. It makes me feel worthless. I'm obviously not important enough to make an effort on.

Christophe said...

Hi Tara, thank you for this post, for sharing your theories and the information you have on this subject. I've been researching self-cutting for a fiction story I'm writing, and I'd be very interested to read anything you've published that goes into detail. Is there a clinical term yet for this behavior that you know of?

I read a bit about this in a book some years ago titled "A Bright Red Scream", and one of the cases mentioned was an executive who no doubt had a stressful life, but otherwise had everything for him. So the question has always stayed with me -- why would someone, in particular someone "happy" (slippery term that it is) and successful do this to themselves?

Because my first take on the phenomenon was that, among other things, in a fair portion of those who do it, self-cutting is a means of asserting control. Also, the self is a convenient and readily-available subject to direct aggressive or negative feelings toward, convenient because it doesn't carry the same social consequences that directing them toward another person would. I liken intense emotions to a firehose that can't be turned off. It has to be directed somewhere -- if not outward, then inward.

But in the case of the executive in a Bright Red Scream, the need to asserting seems unlikely. He was anything but powerless, and very much in a position to take his emotions out on others if he wanted. In fact, he seemed a good candidate for the type of power broker that pays a dominatrix to put him in a situation where he has no control (and thus no pressure to make important decisions). What do you think might drive this kind of situation?

I think in some cases, self-cutting might have something to do with asserting strength by virtue of being able to endure the pain (whether delayed or immediate). You mention how we communicate to ourselves in words -- perhaps self-injury of this type, in addition to distracting from emotional pain, is a positive ellipsis to any negative self-talk. "You're a worthless bitch...but at least you're a worthless bitch tough enough to take that (and whatever else the world can throw at you)."

Tim said...

uhmm... hi... how do i keep from doin it again? its been aprox- 1 month since last time and i feel the need to try again- ps: this brought alot to lite- thanx!

Anonymous said...

Hi after reading your Article I started to understand a lot why people cut. I could never believe why people would cut themselves, I'd immediately label them as depressed and try and get them help, that is until I started myself. I don't even know why I did it
, I guess I was just feeling really upset about my life which really doesn't make anysense I have a great family And friends,I play sports and do well in school, I guess the main reason I ever do it is when I get into fights worth my parents, not even huge fights judt little Arguments that leave me feeling like a bad person. You made a really good point by writing howphysical pain overpowersrntal pain. I'm 15 and I go through all the drama at school with boys,never doing swell enough for my parents and always getting my hopes up for things that won't happen. I know what I do is wrong,but it makes me.feel better. I always regret it the next day,and ask myself how I could be so.stupid,but then the next time another argument happens I have the urge to cut Gain. I do it on my thigh so nobody will see, annd every time I see scars I feel ashamed of doing it,but its also sort of a "eff you"to society and the reasons I feel this way... thankylu for your article

Anonymous said...

I recently cut myself a few times and I'm trying to stop. I can tell you some of the reasons why people cut themselves. The only thing I like to add is that when people cut themselves, a lot of times they don't actually feel the psychical pain either. SO here are my top 3 reasons why someone would cut.

1. Take away emotional pain: You mostly talked about this already. Sometimes psychical pain is better than emotional. The blood coming out is almost like the pain coming of you.

2. Attention: I don't mean attention in the sense that most people assume. Cutters often want to see if anyone would care. They may steal conceal the cuts, but eventually show a friend, sibling, etc. to see what the reaction would be.


3. To feel something in general: A lot of depressed people become numb to the world and this form of pain helps.

I'd like to add one more thing. Many people who cut do not actually plan the cuts. In addition, in order to cut they need some sort of influence or knowledge of cutting. Usually if they get over the reason why they cut initially, they usually end up regretting the cutting.

Anonymous said...

Very insightful, thank you for taking the time to post this.

Tara Deliberto said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Very interesting but I found myself cutting because I was curious. I wanted to see what others would do and see how the blood would look on my skin.

Erica said...

I don't know what to say. I started cutting one night when I was alone and really upset and it just took one tiny cut. I actually think I have gotten addicted to the pain and release it gives me. I may not necessarily be having a bad day, I may have had a great day, but something inside me just is screaming that I need to cut. It's really difficult to explain the thought process honestly. I always promised myself I wouldn't cut. I never understood how someone could like it and how it wouldn't "hurt" and I still don't get it honestly. There honestly is something that is just so beautiful with seeing your own blood.

I haven't done it for attention, I always actually feel like I want to tell one of my close friends but I don't want to be judged or thought of differently. I actually get anxiety about the thought of people finding out and not being able to love me or want me around anymore. I always feel like I should tell someone so that maybe they'd understand I'm hurting and help me, but the sick thing is, I don't know if I want help to stop.

There's a lot of complexity with people that cut and I think that it's almost impossible to understand or put into words.

Anonymous said...

I have been cutting for over two years now, and only two people know. One is one of my best friends who also struggled with it, and the other is my boyfriend. I didn't tell them for attention, I told them because I wanted help and someone to talk to about it. And also I rarely cut for any of the reasons listed here, I mainly did it to relieve stress. And I guess on some level I did feel that I deserved it.

Anonymous said...

I have been a cutter for a long time i am going to dbt and conceling for this dbt has helped a lot i have been abbused when i was growing up and called names by my parent and brothers so i started cutting to help me through the abuse and name calling i cut with a razor blade and there was once when i had stabed my self in the leg with a knife that wasnt for attetion i learned that when i was growing up that u couldnt cry so i turned to cutting and selfharm but now i learned that u can let out how u feel with out selfharm but i somtimes strogel with that because it feels wiered to cry and i still get the urge to cut but now i just go back to what i had learned in dbt

Anonymous said...

It's sad to think that I, who always wondered why people would harm themself, would take up such a task. When i get depressed, those thoughts DO come into my head. The thing is, I don't think I'm ugly or worthless, only when I'm in the middle of the act. More so something happens, or I'm not in such a great mood, I see my drawer and know, as if i can feel it, that there is relief in there. Just it is in the form of razors and other sharp objects. I feel as if my mind is contradicting itself. Kind of like the angel on one shoulder and devil on the other effect. It's hard to keep up and physically hurts when I listen to it. I don't think this is healthy, but sometimes I see projections that i realize after, that I make, who talk to me and down me. It's gotten as bad that i just wanted to jump off my roof in a swan dive...but I found reason not to. Thing is, I have all these scars, and I DO NOT TELL PEOPLE. However, some are asking questions. The scars now aren't healing, they're at that stage where they will be permanent. Anyway, when I realized this, i told myself I just can't do it anymore. Since I quit cutting, i have taken on other forms of selfharm. Things such as pulling out hair, scratching until I bleed (which HURTS), bruising myself, and anorexia. Was it worth it? I can't tell yet. I WANT to heal. I NEED to heal. Sad, things like these are, but great article :)

Anonymous said...

My cutting is directly related to my eating disorder. When you were talking about the thoughts and believing them, I would say that was pretty accurate, for me anyways. I cut to make the thoughts stop as well as if I feel I have eaten too much that day I will use it as a punishment, but also at the same time there is still even worse thoughts when used as punishment, so it kind of all ties together.

Tara Deliberto said...

To the readers who left comments over the last several months - Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to contribute.

My apologies for not replying sooner. In the midst of dissertation writing, applications, & clinical work, my blog responsibilities took a backseat.

To those of you who requested information about how to stop cutting, I very highly recommend a specific type of (proactive) therapy that teaching specific skills on how to manage your mood and self-injurious behaviors called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I've mentioned it many times in the comments above. To find a provider near you, go to www.ABCT.org or Behavioral Tech. I truly hope this helps.

Maria said...

As a cutter myself, I searched for an article to see if my cutting was the same as other people's cutting.

And you are right, it does heal emotional pain for a while, but the emotional pain always comes back. That is why we continue to cut over a long amount of time. I do not expirience any endorphen release, but I can't speak for other people.

You are also right about cutters usually don't tell people that they cut. I had only told one person, and she thinks it was a one time thing. She is wrong.

Most people that don't cut judge us. I can't tell you how many people I have seen judge us by saying that cutting is stupid. If you are one of those people, you better listen to this next part VERY carefully.

I cut because I love someone who will never love me back, and it eventually became too much for me to bear and I started cutting. I found that it temporarily gets rid of the emotional pain. The pain from emotions always comes back,so I cut myself again. And again. And again. Nobody will EVER understand my pain. Nobody will EVER know how much it hurts. It's like the begining of that Rihanna music video. It says "It's like screaming, and no one can hear. You almost fell ashamed that someone could be that important, that without them you feel like nothing. No one will ever understand how much it hurts. You feel hopeless, like nothing can save you. And when all that's gone, you almost wish that you could have all that bad stuff back so you could have the good". The entire music video describes my life perfectly, although I never took drugs with him, he doesn't like drugs. His love is my drug. If I he died, I would kill myself just so I could be with him and so I could have his love. But no, he loves somebody else. Without his love, I just want to commit suicide and get it over with because there is nothing left to live for, no more reasons. But then, I see his picture, or one of the videos I have of him, and I think that if I have the slightest chance at being with him, even if the odds are totally against me. That slight chance is the reason that I am alive right now and telling you this. I don't need anything else, just his love. He has my heart and my fate in his hands. If he chooses me, he gets my heart, and I stay alive. If he chooses to be with her forever, than my love and existence was a waste. I will be forced to find a way out of life and kill myself. Without him, I feel like nothing, and no one and nothing will ever change that. I have tried turning to God, it helps, but it still hurts like hell. It truly is like screaming and no one can hear.

Loving someone who doesn't love you back is like hugging a cactus in the middle of a desert. The tighter you hold on trying to break it, the more it hurts, but you can't bring yourself to let go because you know it's the only thing that will keep you alive. You cannot let go.

Check out the song Moments by One Direction. It perfectly describes how I feel as well as the music video for We Found Love by Rihanna does.

Babe, if you ever read this, know that I love you. See you on the other side. I will be waiting for you to return to me in paradise. Much love, babe <3
-Maria

Anonymous said...

What you've written is exactly what I felt like when I was cutting.

I used to tell myself everyday that I was worthless, that no one would ever want or love me. I was a waste of space. I was constantly comparing myself to those around me, and it wasn't until I accepted who I was actually became happy with myself.

I don't really remember the day I started cutting, what was going on in my mind. All I know was that it provided an outlet, it allowed me to focus on my physical pain rather than my emotional pain.

AfiAyat said...

When I was 11, I desperately wanted to cut, to kill myself, to end it all. I can remember wanting to end the pain inside. The pain was so bad it almost felt like my heart was hurting. I just couldn't get over the fact that my father would never be there for me, unlike my half sister, who's father would be there through thick and thin. It hurt so bad, to think how I would always be alone, without any siblings, while she would have real siblings and a happy family. I would go through breaking my nose or arms just to erase that pain, and my friend didn't understand. My mother got cancer when I was 9, and I couldn't tell her how i was feeing because my step father made her happy and he was a good guy. The pain has gone now, and I have finally accepted what happened, and that my father was an abuser, and my mum had no choice but to escape, but I still wish I had never of felt that pain that changed me forever. Im thirteen now, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tara,
I would like to reply and say that although your inclinations might be correct for some, they were not for me. I'm not saying that you're wrong, just that I'm giving you my point of view to try and give you some insight.
Although I am mean to myself,and I still am, that's not why I started cutting. I am merely mean to myself because I am very self conciliate,fat, have acne, and I'm a nerd so I often wonder how anyone could ever love me.
I will tell you why I started cutting and I will try to do this with the upmost simplicity. I don't really remember having a definite reason to cut, I just wanted to. It was the emotional anguish that brought this on, I suppose. No, it wasn't seeing my father anise my mother verbally, emotionally, and physically while he was as high as a kite for as long as I can remember, or practically seeing him die before my eyes. No, this wasn't it, although it caused me to never really have a childhood, its probably what brought upon my academic success. This was a lot for a child to take in, but no thought of self harm had ever crossed my mind.
It was the fact that nothing ever went well in my life. You see, I held on to love as my. stability to sanity and it had seemed like nothing was going right and my life was just. onee jumbled mess. Every guy that I could even think about just turned around and hurt me, my mother forced me to interact with her new boyfriend while I was still grieving over my father, and family death was everywhere. It was the unsuccessful love life that brought this on, I think. So one day I found a little Swiss army knife and decided to try to see if I could cut myself. I stopped when it started to hurt.
Overall, I think it was being able to see that I could accomplish something. The ability to control something in my fucked up life that helped me.
So it wasn't brought on by any of your theories. Who knows, maybe I'm just fucked up and that's why it was like ne for that.
( please reply but be nice. This all started about a month ago[I'm 13])

Anonymous said...

I was recently in a relationship with someone I would consider to be a severe cutter. As a counselor who worked with teenage cutters, I found myself completely useless to this person that I love so very much. He stated that he cut because it allowed him to know he was alive....that once he saw the blood running, it reassured him that he was alive because, otherwise, he felt numb. After reading this blog, I have to believe that his negative self-talk may also contribute to it. To be such a loving and kind man, his negative self-talk and his belief that he is so unworthy can only serve to contribute to it. I feel so guilty because I couldn't take his fits of anger and verbal abuse of me.....and stay. I love him so very much. It is killing me to be away from him. I can only hope that he will get the help he needs (which he has promised me he will do), so that one day we can be together again.

Anonymous said...

i just want to say i never really understood when people cut themself but reading the blog and most of the commets i have a more understanding of it.ive been depreseased for almost 3 mouths and no one would help me not my mom or dad there not together and i been feeling so alone and different before school ended the entire year people were mean to me because they thought i was ugly and looked like a man and walked like one and also my achne i felt so useless i would cry for hours and my grades got terrible i got in fights i didnt know what to do but when it was happening i thought about cutting but i never did it i would pray then i lisen to music instead of thinking of cutting but now im not eating that much and i used to weigh 150 but now im 136 so im thinking should i eat even less i dont know what to do hope u commet back

Anonymous said...

I feel that sometimes, it is after a traumatic event, like rape, that makes you want to be sure that know one will look at you in that way. Or that you are no good for anyone, after a rape. You are angry with no healthy outlet. I do not believe that it is for attention at all or even that most of us want help. It is an unhealthy release of anger, etc., not just what was "said" to you, but what was "done" to you.

Michael Silver said...

Why do people cut themselves is a question that has been asked for years. It's the emotional release of pain that these (mostly) teenagers are exhibiting. I really feel it's the lack of love and attention from parents that cause self-esteem issues and depression in these kids.

Michael
http://www.cuttingdepression.net

Anonymous said...

I cut for a couple of years and I think you described it very well. My dad left our family when I was young and i didn't have a great outlook on life. I think you explained everything very well! I felt worthless and didn't care what I did myself or if I lived and its people like you that made me realize that people actually do care and after getting help I have stopped cutting and haven't done it in almost a year! Thank you so much for this explanation to other people, I struggled with people understanding how I felt or why I did it and I will pass this article on to anyone who doesn't understand

Donnie Davis said...

As a 19 year old how has been cutting for 6 years i think the self talk has something to to with it on a level as in its not what ur saying but the emotion caused by it i dont think its so much as talking ur mind off of it as much as u know when some one is really mad and the hit thing kick thing because they have a Really Intense emotion and they have to let it out when they feel like there about to explode They have to do something that feels Intense in or extreme just to let it out i think its the same thing and more so when ur in a really bad place and u cant do those things it feels intense and it lets it out for the moment and if you are forced to hide ur emotions and there still there they never go away and u just have to smile and pretend for other people they build up and in time ur are going to go crazy or ur going to find something to do about it

Anonymous said...

I normally never self harm but I did today. I cuz my arm, not enough to make it bleed, just so theres a scratch. I didnt want it to be noticeable. I did it because 2 months ago I watched an animal I was taking care of die, also because my dad got mad at me for doing something and he wouldn't let me explain why I did it. I guess im depressed, I only get to see some pals once q month or so (I homeschool), my dad has a very stressful job and he brings alot of that stress home, my mom has alot of health issues, and my sis has thyroid cancer.
I feel as though my parents dont love ne as much as they love my sis, so cutting takes my mind off all that. No one knows that i cut, and thats how i qant to keep it for now. I dont want to cut, and j believe its wrong, but I cant help it. Im scared of myself, to be honest.

I just needed to share my reasons for self harm, thanks for writing this article!! I hope more peeps will begin to understand peeps like me.

God bless!!

cutting yourself said...

Excellent post, I struggled with this for many years in high school, after many year I started again after going through a rough time. I think depression is a major contributor to my desire to self harm.

Terri said...

i have a 16yr old daughter that does SI.it has been hard for me as a parent to understand, but I love my child very much and will do whatever it takes to help her. we have gone to counseling many times and i know how heart wrenching this is for parents, but please stand by your child...try to understand and help them accordingly...read as much as you can to help show them that you DO care about their well being and want to help them get through whatever it is they are going through. Thank you, Tara for this blog. when a teenager cannot express themselves to a parent, it helps when someone else can and your insight is a blessing to me! My daughter wants to be a psychologist one day and I know we will get through this with Gods help!

Very concerned mother said...

Hello I have been reading some of the posts from everyone on here and it has been very insightful. I am a mother of two girls, my oldest is 14 and she and I had an argument because she says I do not give her any freedom, truth is I give her a lot of freedom, but she has often gone and done things she shouldn't have and then I ground her and eventually let her do things again with her friends. She recently got upset with me over me coming to pick her up at a friends because I heard there were things going on there that I did not approve of, she was angry with me and proceeded to tell me she cut herself the other day because of me, I am so very concerned with this behavior and tried to talk to her about it, she doesn't want to talk to me but I am so scared and so concerned she will do this again, most of the info. I have read on this matter state that it is something people hide from their families and that it is not something people do just for attention, my daughter told me she would never do it again, but from everything I have read on self injury it is not something people do one time and stop. Can you please share your thoughts on this and advise how I an help her without having her shut down and not talk to me about it at all?

Tara Deliberto said...

Hi Terri,

Thank you so much for reading & leaving a comment. I wish you and your daughter only the best. I would say that particularly if your daughter wants to be a psychologist, I'd bet she would really want to learn all of the wonderful skills people like Marsha Linehan, Kelly Wilson, Steve Hayes, and Paul Gilbert have taught us. I highly recommend seeking out and enrolling your daughter in Dialectical Behavior Therapy. There is plenty of research that shows this is effective. Again, best of luck.

-Tara

Tara Deliberto said...

Dear "very concerned mother:"

Thanks so much for reading & commenting. Of course, I cannot know the intimate details of the current dynamic between you and your daughter; however, I can comment generally. A child engaging in self-injury can be terrifying for parents and therapists alike. This fear can lead to an increase in the amount of rules or limits set by parents. Sometimes this is helpful. Sometimes this is not. In order to figure out in what ways your daughters comments may be valid (if at all). and in which ways they are not, seeking family therapy from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist (CBT; go to www.abct.org) will likely prove very helpful. A CBT therapist will be able to help troubleshoot what is and what is not helpful in terms of limit setting with your daughter. The typical CBT therapist will take a practical approach to helping you solve this problem and stick with you until you find something that works.

In the mean time, it may be helpful to purchase the book Walking on Eggshells. I often recommend it to parents of my patients who engage in self-injury.

I truly hope these suggestions/ recommendations help.

Best,
Tara

Anonymous said...

i'm a 32 year old male. i've been cutting since i was a teenager. it started off as a fascination with blood, vampires, and blades. but then it became a way to deal with emotional pain. particularly when it involved a relationship. even when things are going great, i have a fear of rejection, and i tend to cut myself up to deal with the emotional pain. now i'm worried that my girlfriend is gonna see my cuts and i've decided to confess to her before she sees it so she doesn't freak out. i don't really know why i do it. i keep it hidden and i don't like attantion. i love her and i don't want to scare her.

Indu said...

Nice article. As a 28 year old who indulge in this at times i want to add that most of what you have mentioned is correct. I feel i do it when i want a break from the emotional pain. It gives my mind a brief relief from what is hurting me. Also another important reason is that it fulfills a desire to punish yourself. I regret hurting someone i loved and lost and i feel happy when i put myself in this pain. Also at times i feel i am numb to all emotions otherwise. I smile and laugh for the ones i love and who love me but that doesnt come from my heart. Pain is the only thing i feel right in my heart. So one does it to feel alive. It needs a lot of courage to cut yourself and obviously it hurts like hell but still if one does it, it certainly means the thing that lead to it matters to you that much. So it is also done at times to prove something to myself. So the reasons are too many, depending on the person and the situation that lead one to this.

Anonymous said...

try to pray honey

Anonymous said...

I wounder if any of you ever heard of picking your toe nails till they bleet and peeling and picking the skin around them also. I have been doing this for years; for me it takes away anxiety and causes me to feel the throbbing pain in my toes. Does any one else have this problem? < anonymous>

mySoldiersWife said...

Hello, my name is Amber, not Anonymous :) i found this article out of a desperate google search attempt to find answers. Consider me your newest fan!!!
But what i wanted to say, was that, especially on the internet, you're not going to please everyone. I am glad to hear you can take constructive criticism (negative comments directed at myself just make me crumble. Its pathetic, really.) and are willing to learn from the comments, but i found this article, as a relapsed cutter, AMAZING, spot on, and informative. I enjoyed reading it, and am going to continue reading your very non-egotistical blog, and follow your advice on the book you suggested and the links you posted. Thank you so much for your time and selflessness with this blog! Please keep up the GREAT work!

Sara Spencer said...

Hello my name is Sara I have been cutting for 8 years . I really enjoyed reading this . It was very true how ever each time a person cuts there are a thousand different reasons. There are the mean thoughts and , the knowledge that as soon as the blade cuts your skin the pain will diminish . I liked that you took the time to try to empathize with us . When i was 17 I found out I was pregnant and I went a whole year without cutting but every single day I thought about it eventually I gave in and did it again. The one thing I wish you would have mentioned is how terribly hard it is to quit . I have quit smoking and that was easier than trying to quit cutting .

Megan Schleicher said...

I used to cut in 8th grade a lot. and I have almost 100 scars combined on both my legs now, and I stopped for a long while because the scars were ugly, and I couldn't wear shorts until they were faded enough... But last night I had a very big and dramatic fight with my dad which ended with him taking away all my communication devices to the outer world (Phone, computer, ect.) and I couldn't leave the house, and he didn't understand that I was very overwhelmed (extremely overwhelmed) and I don't know how to handle that kind of thing, so I cut my wrist up for the first time... a lot, he doesn't know but I'm sure he will find out soon... Anyways, I was trying to research a little on the interent on the Psychological side of reasons of why I could have done it and ran across your article, and agree with most of it especially the endorphins... It does make a lot of sense, I'm a freshman now which sucks because now I'm going to have to wear long sleeves... but blogs like these help me understand a little more where I'm a little lost... I'm not going to do it again, but thank you for this article, you seem like a very nice and intelligent person.