In General Knowledge for the Family, Physical & Mental Health

Self Injury, Cutting, and Self-Mutilation

Self injury is something that occurs more frequently than people believe. The activity occurs in the United States and different areas of Europe. Approximately one out of every five females and one out of every seven males engages in self-injury activities. The majority of those individuals started conducting self injurious activities as early as their teenage years. Statistics state that approximately 2 million people in the United States have a problem with self-mutilation or injury.
More than half of the self-injuring community is female. People who perform self injuries have a multitude of places from which they learn the activities. Some of them learn how to inflict self injury from peers or siblings. Some of them obtain information on how to conduct self injuries from websites and other online resources. A small percentage of people stumble upon self injury by chance and like the control that it gives them.

What Is Self Injury?

Self-injury is an action that a person takes that causes pain to him or her. Self-injury usually refers to cutting oneself, but it could mean a multitude of different actions. Some people inflict injury on themselves by cutting their skin or burning their flesh. Other people choose to injure themselves by repeatedly getting into relationships that will cause them pain and turmoil. The emotional pain that these people endure is just as bad as the physical pain that comes from a large cut or a burn. It pains the person to the core, but he or she continues to conduct such activities.

Some people cause self-injury to themselves by depriving themselves of nutrition. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are examples of illnesses that reflect self injury. Other people injure themselves by taking massive amounts of drugs and alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse can cause irreversible damage to a person’s lungs, liver and heart. The abusers know that using these substances is slowly killing them, yet they continue to cause pain to themselves every day.

People who cut themselves are fully aware of what they are doing. They know that they are opening themselves up for pain, bleeding, scarring and possible infection. Sometimes the wounds they inflict on themselves cause excruciating pain, but the pain does not force them to stop conducting the activity. Self-injurers and self-mutilators are usually very discreet about their conditions. They conduct their activities behind the door of a locked bathroom. They try their best not to tell anyone about the issue because they are secretly embarrassed by it. They know the activity is wrong, but they still have a deeply rooted urge to continue doing it. Inflicting harm on themselves seems to relieve certain uncomfortable emotions that come about for a wide variety of reasons.

Why Do People Injure Themselves?

People conduct self-injurious behaviors for a wide variety of reasons. The most common reason for self-injury is to cope with various emotions. A person who does self-injury may have grown up in a home that did not have a good emotional structure. Perhaps that person’s parents never established a healthy stress-management or emotional communication program. Such a person may feel as though causing himself or herself pain is the only way to express the way that he or she feels inside. Cutting and other types of self-injury may be a reflection of depression, anxiety or anger. The moment the person causes the self-inflicted injury, he or she may feel a sense of relief.

Some people have a strong need to punish themselves. Such people will conduct self-injurious activities when they feel they have done something wrong. The perceived wrongdoing may be something as trivial as an impure thought or as bad as a criminal activity. The person may feel as though pain is the way to pay for such activity. Cutting, burning and otherwise punishing himself or herself may be the only activity that offers that person any kind of sanity during a confused state.

Self-injury could be a way of distracting oneself from extremely painful emotions. Sometimes emotional pains are much more severe than physical pains are. Therefore, a large cut or a third-degree burn may be the lesser of two evils according to the person who is inflicting self-injury on himself or herself. Again, a person who uses self injury to escape from emotional pain has not learned the proper way to cope with such pain. Every person is capable of developing the tools to work through emotional pain, but not every person is willing to take the time out to learn such. Children of abusive homes usually have to attempt to find their way late in life.

Who Conducts Self Injurious Behavior?

A wide variety of people is susceptible to becoming self injurers. People who have mental illnesses such as unipolar depression and bipolar disorder are vulnerable to picking up a mutilation habit. Such illnesses are caused mostly by an imbalance in a person’s brain chemicals. The imbalance may cause that person to fall into a deep depression that he or she cannot climb out of without self injury.

A personality disorder such as borderline personality disorder may cause self-mutilation and injury activities. Borderline personality disorder is a pattern of ill behaviors and an inability to maintain emotional stability. Many cutters self-injury profiles involve a maladaptive upbringing and the deep desire to be heard and acknowledged. Such people may cut themselves to force a reaction, to gain attention, or to receive acknowledgement. People who are suffering from depression tend to have a more absolute plan in mind. These people may really want to bleed to death, and they may not care whether someone finds them in time enough to save them.

Abuse survivors is another group of people that may conduct self injurious behavior. People who experienced childhood abuse may conduct self injurious activities when they feel as though they want to obtain control. Current abuse survivors may injure themselves as a way of escaping the harsh reality of the abuse.

What Is Cutters’ Self Injury?

Cutters’ self injury is a painful disorder in which a person intentionally inflicts cuts and lacerations on himself or herself. The person may use a razor blade, knife, fingernails, dental utensils and the like. The habit usually begins after a traumatic event, and the person learns to use cutting as a way to alleviate pain, stress and depression.

Any number of things can cause an episode of cutting. A new traumatic event such as a the death or physical loss of a close family member may cause a person to cut. The end of an important relationship can cause cutting, as well. A life challenge such as a change in jobs or a decrease in hours can cause anxiety, which can lead to cutting.

A person who cuts himself or herself can exhibit a wide variety of symptoms. Friends and family members may notice that the person becomes socially withdrawn and unwilling to attend social events. The person may spend a great deal of time in his or her room. The ill person may wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants to hide the multitude of cuts and scars that are spread about his or her body. A person who opts not to wear long pants and shirts may have a great deal of Band-Aids, gauze or medical tape on the injury sites.

Embarrassment and internal guilt about a cutting disorder can cause a person to get depressed, which can trigger more cutters self injury activities. Cutting is an extremely deadly practice that can end with the afflicted person losing his or her life.

Self Injury Awareness

For a person to begin the process of healing from a self-injury illness, he or she will have to first reach the point of self injury awareness. Self injury awareness is knowing that one has a problem and acknowledging that his or her behaviors are unhealthy and need to be replaced with healthy behavior. People achieve self injury awareness at varying periods in their lives. It may take one person a near-death experience to realize that he or she needs help. Some people have supportive family and friends who will obtain outside help and perform such rituals as interventions. Some people just grow tired of feeling pain and they end up admitting to themselves that they need help.

How to Get Help for Self Injury

Getting help for self injury begins with acknowledgment. Once a person acknowledges that he or she has an illness, the next step is finding a reliable provider who can give that person some mental and emotional stability. A psychiatrist is one of the best people to handle cutting problems. A psychiatrist is a person who has a firm grasp on all illnesses of the DSM manuals. This person is licensed and certified to prescribe medications that can help to regulate and control the desire to cut.

A person who cuts will also need counseling and therapy. The desire to inflict harm on oneself usually involves a deep-rooted feeling of guilt or shame about something. This could be from childhood abuse, or it could be something that the cutter has done to a person in his or her past for which he or she feels the need for self-punishment. A personal therapist can get to the root of the problem and help the person heal the original wound that may have contributed to the development of the illness.

A therapist can use several types of therapy to help with self injury. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a practice that helps people retrain their brains. The therapist could help a patient discover healthy ways to deal with pain and aggression that are not harmful to his or her body, mind or soul. The key to success with this type of treatment is that the mental health care provider establishes a sense of trust with the patient. The patient cannot find a path to true healing if he or she does not trust the person who is providing the care.

Preventing Relapse into Self Injurious Behaviour

Relapse prevention is possible if a person has a strong enough support system. Family members and friends should stand by the ill person and provide him or her with emotional support beyond the recovery period. Emotional support could mean anything from an encouraging word to full-blown assistance with financing, housekeeping or sprit lifting. Persons who enter rehabilitation facilities to stop self-injurious activities may have the benefits of meeting people through group therapy. Those people will most likely form supportive bonds that will last when the rehabilitation program is over. Such support and positivity can help a person to stabilize and prevent the possibility of relapse.

Self Injury Quotes

Many quotes exist that pertain to people who cut themselves. Quotes are short stoires about the reason a person conducts harmful activities. A person named C. Blount wrote the following: “How will you know I am hurting, if you cannot see my pain? To wear it on my body tells what words cannot explain.” This self injury quote was one that bluntly explained the person’s reason for self harm. That person wanted the world to know that he or she was hurting inside. Cutting scars and scabs give a visual depiction of the pain and turmoil a cutter feels.

Another one of the best self injury quotes is, “The lines I wear around my wrist are there to prove that I exist.” The cutter who wrote that quote used cutting as a means to get attention. Perhaps that person’s parents emotionally neglected him or her. Perhaps his or her spouse had not been paying attention for a long time. Self injury usually involves a loud cry for attention or action of some sort. Self-injurers do not want to kill themselves most of the time. They just want some compassion from a person who cares to see them alive.

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