Cutters and self-harm

An article I just came across, discusses how “overwhelming feelings” can lead to self-injury for emotion regulation: “… Cutting releases opioids into the bloodstream and can actually cause the person to feel suddenly very calm… Others cut themselves because they feel numb and empty. The rush of endorphins can make the cutter briefly feel alive again” (Dr. Michael Hollander).

What scares me are the statistics: “Medical Health America and Discovery Health report that over the past decade 1 percent, or over 2 million, people have cut themselves or inflicted self-injury. Further data suggests that 1 in every 200 girls ages 13 to 19 has cut themselves.”

To read the full post, please visit my new site: Society Interrupted

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~ by Jen C. on 08/11/2010.

3 Responses to “Cutters and self-harm”

  1. Cutting is a very sad, but very popular thing. I have several friends who are cutters, and they all want to stop cutting but it’s not easy. After you’ve done it a lot it is like a drug. And if you go too long without it you can actually have physical withdrawals from it. Very sad.

    I haven’t asked them about the first time they cut themselves, but from my own person watching surveillances, it seems that these friends do not have good relationships with their parents. And usually after fighting with their aprents for one reason or another they go off and cut themselves.

    I think that stress at home, combined with school stress is very overwhelming. I don’t have a bad relationship with my parents, but I know school is extremely stressful and overwhelming, so I can definantly understand where that kind of stress plays in.

    I don’t know if that was very insightful, but that was all I have to offer at the moment. 🙂

    Take care. 🙂

    • Thanks for your reply Jenny. Is this something you deal with at work? I was wondering what you mean by “from my own person watching surveillances”?

  2. I’m continuing some of what I said on Twitter. It’s a lot easier to go into details when you’re not confined to 140 characters. 😉

    I have been continually amazed at the number of teens who use cutting as a form of stress relief. I can understand a bit of where it comes from; for lack of a better term, being a teenager pretty much sucks. Your body is changing, the social dynamics in your life are changing, and you’re trying to figure out where you into it all. I think a lot of people that cut do it because it allows them some control when they can control little else going on in their young lives. Sometimes, like Jenny mentioned, it can be because they don’t have the greatest relationship with their parents. Maybe they feel that they can’t express their feelings to their parents because they feel they don’t care or won’t listen, so they cut. And then there are sometimes when that isn’t the case.

    Going back to my Twitter chat example, my high school boyfriend had a very good relationship with his parents (at least from my perspective), was very smart, and did very well in school (he was taking honors courses and planned to go to an Ivy League university). But he also cut. Not very deep—if you noticed the scratches at all you would think that they were accidental—but he still did it. I think his main trigger was perceived failure on his part; if he couldn’t figure out a hard question on his physics homework or didn’t feel he would make it into his top university choices he would cut. I remember one particular evening where I had been angry with him over something and wasn’t talking to him, and as a result he cut. I felt horrible and guilty and I carried that with me for a long time. It wasn’t until a few years later that I finally came to the realization that it wasn’t my fault, rather that it was his own issues with things that caused him to cut. I wish that I would have told someone about it, but at the time I was too scared and upset about the situation to realize I should have said something. I think if he had been causing more considerable harm to himself I would have said something.

    Anyway, there’s my personal experience with it. I think your mention of your friend that turned to suspension is very interesting. I know that can be another coping “mechanism”, that’s not as harmful (though perhaps not everyone will agree with that statement) as self-mutilation. I think that some forms of body modification, such as scarification and tattooing, can also be ways to cope. My step-sister went through a rough spot in her life a few years ago, and ended up getting a pretty spectacular back piece tattoo to commemorate the events. With tattoos you have to go through pain, but the end result can be a beautiful reminder that you can get through the rough spots.

    Well, there are my thoughts. Sorry for the novel! 😉

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