What is a Cutting Disorder?
Although it receives little attention, cutting disorder is a widespread phenomenon that many people from all over the world struggle with.
There is a whole spectrum of reasons for causing self-harm, ranging from trauma to depression. Self-harm is started during the early teens and it is more prevalent among females, but there are males who do it, too.
Self-harm, often in the form of cutting, is not a healthy coping mechanism. However, people do it because it is the only way with which they can relieve pain that they feel inside.
This pain relief is temporary, just like the effect of alcohol and drug abuse, and when pain returns, it is even stronger. This makes the cycle of self-harm difficult to break. Luckily, there are many resources available for this issue, since seeking help is often necessary.
Reasons for Inflicting Self-harm & Cutting
Although it is never the best way to handle problems, people who feel helpless use cutting since they know no other solution to relieve pain. There are many reasons but most of them are directed towards relieving overwhelming emotions. Some use it as a distraction from emotional pain, while others do it without meaning to because of emotions triggered by traumatic events.
It is also a way of expressing emotions like anger and sorrow that are beyond what words can express. Self-harm is also a means of self-punishment for many of its victims. This is commonly done by people who were physically, emotionally, or sexually abused to take anger out on themselves because they blame themselves for what happened.
Individuals who cut themselves do not usually suffer from mental illnesses. Among the infrequent cases of mental illnesses associated with self-harm are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar, eating disorder, phobias, substance abuse, borderline personality disorder, and conduct disorder.
Psychological factors may come into play, especially when the person came from a family that discouraged and did not value children’s feelings. Other psychological factors that are underlying reasons for self-harm include abuse, poverty, war, and unemployment.
A much rarer cause of self-harm is the genetic condition called Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome. This genetic disorder affects the person’s behavior, making him compulsive to cut, head bang, and bite, among other self-destructive acts.
The Relationship Between Cutting and Substance Use
Substance abuse is cited as one of the mental illnesses involved in cutting behaviors. The most common substance that is abused by almost half of those who inflict self-harm is alcohol. Self-harm may be a manifestation of alcohol withdrawal or deep alcohol intoxication.
Other drugs are also associated with cutting. A particular example is benzodiazepine. Dependence and withdrawal from benzodiazepine are usually associated with cutting behaviors, particularly among teens and young adults.
The relationship between substance abuse and self-harm highlights the importance of drug alcohol rehab for the effective management of withdrawal symptoms. Drug alcohol rehab typically involves detoxification, diagnosis, cognitive therapy, family therapy, medication, and 12-step programs, according to WebMD. The inpatient and outpatient components are designed to protect a person from the effects of dependence and withdrawal, one of which may be cutting in the case of alcohol and benzodiazepine.
Myths and Misconceptions On Cutting
Although cutting appears to be an act of suicide, that notion is actually a common myth. Although the act of self-harm can lead to death, people who inflict it on themselves do not usually intend to commit suicide. Cutting for these people is a form of control over pain as well as a means of escape from the real world where their pain exists.
Self-harm is also seen as a means to call for attention. While this is not exactly true, it is also not exactly false. Many people who commit cutting are usually very secretive and they try to hide their pain. Nevertheless, there are times when a person cuts him or herself and shows it to others in order to gain their sympathy.
Another misconception is that people who cut themselves are always crazy. People wonder if self-harm is a psychological disorder. The act in itself is not a psychological disorder, but an unhealthy mechanism for coping with a traumatic event or series of events.
A Cutter’s Vicious Cycle
The vicious cycle of cutting starts with a feeling, which leads to a behavior, which leads back to a feeling (often stronger), which leads back to the same or more harmful behavior, and so on and so forth.
Depending on the environment and background of people, they may experience too much stress or dissociation. The feelings evoked by dissociation are numbness, loneliness, disconnection, loss, confusion, and inability to feel their feelings. Too much stress or hyper-stress makes a person who is generally prone to anxiety become even more unable to cope, exposed, vulnerable, and overwhelmed.
Whether they fall under hyper-stress or dissociation, self-harm gives them relief and makes them feel in control of the situation. It may produce a calming feeling for the victim of hyper-stress. It may help the person with dissociation feel more alive, helping them function again in society.
However, when the calm subsides and the relief of self-harm wears off, the individuals who are hyper-stressed or dissociated again face reality. They are scarred but their problems are still there. They go back to the vicious cycle of cutting.
Treating Cutting Beyond the Injuries
Getting out of the vicious cycle of cutting and other forms of self-harm is a difficult ordeal that often necessitates professional help. It is often too much to handle for the person involved, as well as his or her family.
The first step towards treatment of self-harm is finding a confidante that you can trust. This is the hardest and most crucial step. The confidantes who may help guide you towards the right path are usually in the form of parents, friends, counselors, and psychologists.
You will find relief when you express your pain to them instead of keeping it all to yourself. Psychotherapy is usually required to prevent the person affected from resorting to self-harm again. They will learn how to deal with and express their emotions in a healthy way, without having to escape from emotional pain by means of cutting.
If you or someone you care about suffers from cutting, it is important to act now. Seek the help that you need now or many years may be wasted without being able to truly deal with the emotions that cause self-harm. What could be worse is that before you know it, accidental death or serious harm may occur.
Cutting: Almost Fixed – From The Web
Borderline Personality Disorder and Cutting
I’ve read many times that borderlines cut for different reasons. For me, self inflicted pain has always been about transferring pain from one bucket inside my body into another. When I’m in crisis and my inner bucket of emotional pain starts overflowing (which to a borderline can feel like you are dying) I can ease some of the feeling of impending death simply by hurting myself. This fresh new wound instantly starts my brain working at filling my physical pain bucket. This is a very effective way to distract the brain away from emotional pain. Cutting is also used as a cry for help.
Why Would You Want To Cut Yourself – From The News
Huffington Post article on former gold medalist swimmer and cutter Amanda Beard. I couldn’t even relate to the poor self-image Amanda had of herself. I am and have always been a confident person. I can’t even compare my accomplishments to her triumphs and successes and yet, I feel confident in most everything I do. Is that from incredible parenting or is that just me? Amanda has learned to outgrow her insecurities, but she still fights these demons, even today. Read more…
Talking about it is the first step. If you, your child, or your friend needs someone to talk to about cutting contact Hawaii Island Recovery at 866-515-5032.