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Self-Injury and Cutting

By June 7, 2008 - 6:27pm
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After seeing the post on the bodily injury through amputation: https://www.empowher.com/share/self-amputation/body-integrity-identity-d...
it reminded me of a group of students in my class (when I was in high school) that cut themselves on purpose! It almost sounded like a "cool fad" to "cut".

Have you heard of this? Why would someone do that to themselves, beyond obviously trying to get attention? We weren't friends or anything, so I didn't do anything...should I have done something?

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I realize this is a very, very old thread, but there's something I would like to point out:

Self-harm/Self-injury and self-mutilation are two very different things. Self-mutilation is a very, very severe form of self-harm/injury (those two terms are synonymous). Examples may include limb amputation, cutting or tearing out larger chunks of flesh, intentional breaking of bones, extremely deep cutting (not to go TOO deep into graphic detail, but say, three or four inches into tissue), second or third degree burns, shooting one's self non-fatally, and other things of that nature.

Self-injury/self-harm are more of the commonly thought cutting or burning behaviors. It can also take the form of excessive drinking, binging and purging, restricting as in refraining from eating as a client with anorexia nervosa would, abusing drugs, dermotillomania (compulsive skin picking), trichotillomania (compulsive hair pulling) and things that may not typically be though of as self-harming or self-injurious.

I merely bring this up because in a clinic setting, there would be a specific differentiation, and on the site itself [though I'm not sure whose attention I would bring this to], I feel self-mutilation and self-harm should be two separate categories of mental health issues.

While I'm not a clinician or an expert, I am a clinical psychology student and a clinical psychology patient that's been in therapy of many types, including talk therapy, CBT, a modified for of CBT known as CBT-i, DBT, Schema Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Intensive Outpatient Therapy for Binge Eating Disorder NOS/Unspecified, general group therapy, as well having been treated in-patient at one point. Different disorders are listed openly and honestly on my profile page. I've been in the American Behavioral Health System since I was 15 and am now almost 22, giving seven years of empirical experience. I just wanted to justify my concerns and back-up my knowledge with some sort of credentials. It's worrisome for me as it's potentially confusing for those who may use the terms interchangeably with an mental health practitioner and worsen the situation for themselves by unintentionally over-stating the extent of the wounds or understating the extent of necessity of treatment.

September 20, 2016 - 10:40pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Pink Pumps,
Thank you for sharing your story. You can certainly help others as well as yourself by sharing your story.

Best Wishes,

March 13, 2011 - 2:56pm

When I was a teenager I started cutting myself. I finally stopped when I was 23 for a little over a year. These past couple of days have been really hard and I relapsed. Anyhow...I know the difference between the recent cutting epidemic and the real affliction. If your friends are seriously cutting themselves, they wouldn't show it off or talk about it. It's embarrassing and humiliating. A real cutter hides it and avoids talking about the scars. The only time I have ever opened up about my disorder is to other cutters and to my boyfriend because he asked and I couldn't lie to him about it. But I have lied to every other person who has asked. Every scar is a memory of an awful event that I cannot be rid of because I made it a permanent part of my life.

Also, I do not believe you have to have a rough past life or abuse in order to be afflicted by this disorder. I have never been physically abused. I have just have no means to cope with life anymore, and cutting is the easiest way to handle the emotional pain. Of course, I hope to quit again.

March 13, 2011 - 2:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have been self-injuring (cutting) for six years. I have gotten help several times, but I always just relapsed again. I do it because I feel like I'm worthless, and stupid, fat, and ugly, and that I don't belong here. I've tried to kill myself several times. I have been abused and molested by my brother, and I have Severe Clinical Depression, Bipolar DIsorder, ADHD, OCD, and three different anxiety disorders. I am medicated for all of them. No offense to anybody, but I find that adults, and older people don't understand self-injury. They say it's just a "fad" and everyone will get over it. Usually, the person isn't doing it to be cool. They're doing it because they're NOT cool. They're depressed, and hate themselves. I'm currently in therapy, and it's helping a bit, but it's a hard thing to deal with, and it's almost an addiction. When you get injured, the brain releases endorphins, giving you a natural high. These endorphins are released when you cut yourself, as well.
I hope I helped you understand self-injury a little bit better, and different people do it for different reasons. If you know someone who is cutting or harming themselves, I suggest that you get help for them right away.

-Delilah Kristion

August 5, 2009 - 8:58pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thanks so much for being open about yourself. My son's fiance' cuts and/or burns herself. We know she is from a bad childhood and definately has depression/bipolar problems. I am bipolar so I understand the negative feelings, I was unfamiliar with cutting and I want to help her anyway I can. Thanks for being so candid and honest. Best wishes for your recovery, I hope you find peace.

January 19, 2010 - 11:52am
(reply to Anonymous)


I'm so sorry about your son's fiance. She is lucky to have you for a future mother-in-law, someone who understands what it is like to be bipolar and/or depressed. Is she getting any therapy and/or medication?

Do you yourself need any information or help that we can give you?

January 20, 2010 - 10:09am

You may want to check out the NPR.org web site. I was listening to guy talking this week about studying people who self mutilated & self cannibalized (yuck!). He said that these people actually had a genetic deficiency that made them that way & that these people acted as though they had no control over what their body was doing.

June 8, 2008 - 2:39pm

There is another disease where people actually amputate their limbs and its called Body Integrity Disorder (BIID) which is a:

Psychological condition in which the individual requests an elective amputation. Individuals with this condition experience the persistent desire to have their body physically match the idealized image they have of themselves. This desire forces individuals to deal with the paradox of losing one or more major limbs (i.e. arm[s] or leg[s]) to become whole. In their minds, "Less is more".

These individuals are not psychotic. In fact, a diagnosis of psychosis

Here is the official web site is any one wishes to gather more information.


June 8, 2008 - 10:24am

I have heard of this, and I'm glad you are asking, as the students who are "cutting" and acting out in other self-mutilating ways do need some attention...by a helpful adult.

Here is what I found about self-injury, from the Academy of American Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (http://aacap.org):
"Self-injury is the act of deliberately destroying body tissue, at times to change a way the person is feeling. Some forms may include:

* carving
* scratching
* branding
* marking
* picking, and pulling skin and hair
* burning/abrasions
* cutting
* biting
* head banging
* bruising
* hitting
* tattooing
* excessive body piercing

Some adolescents may self-mutilate to take risks, rebel, reject their parents' values, state their individuality or merely be accepted. Others, however, may injure themselves out of desperation or anger to seek attention, to show their hopelessness and worthlessness, or because they have suicidal thoughts. These children may suffer from serious psychiatric problems".

Since we are talking about a a situation in the past, no need to revisit "what should have been done", but if anyone is encountering this presently, it is a good idea to talk with a school counselor or trusted teacher about what you are seeing. As stated above, it could be a wide variety of reasons, and if you are friends with the person, you could ask them simply "why are you cutting?" They may say that it feels good or go into other explanation, and having a few resources handy can help them.

Has anyone else experienced cutting either themselves or through a friend?

June 7, 2008 - 7:12pm
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