AStudent

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2005
877
7
Status
I know at least 3 girls that, after becoming premed in college, have begun to cut themselves (visable scars on arms).

Serious post. How to a broach the subject, and refer them to help?

Once again, serious post.
 

Blue Scrub

The Gift & The Curse
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 16, 2005
1,028
1
Status
Maybe talk to some professors or counselors at your school...im sure they will keep you anonymous, and from there they will know what to do, and will be able to handle it anyway they do...
 

virilep

What can Brown do for u?
15+ Year Member
Feb 12, 2004
1,563
5
37
Visit site
Status
go to student services. this is a serious thing. if u can't talk to them urself (trust wise)or aren't comfortable with talking to them, then go to student services. and if u don't have that, then the dean of students.
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
AStudent said:
I know at least 3 girls that, after becoming premed in college, have begun to cut themselves (visable scars on arms).

Serious post. How to a broach the subject, and refer them to help?

Once again, serious post.
it depends on how well you know them. This happened to the sister of an old gf; i was the one who discovered it and against her wishes i told her parents (she was underage); she hated me for t at first but it enabled her to get the hep she needed. Now she has forgiven me and we are close friends.

a good friend would not ignore it; try talking to them, if not the most caring thing you can do is to report it to someone whocan do something about it, the helath services, the dean of student affairs or any adult they would listen to.
 

APTX

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2005
104
0
Status
Are these girls your friends? If so, maybe you can talk to them in private, ask what's going on, and most importantly, try to understand them and offer your support if need be. Not saying you should condone cutting...but let them know you care about their well-being. If they're not your friends...well, then there's no easy way to go about it without seeming like a busybody.

Hope this helps a bit!
 
OP
AStudent

AStudent

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2005
877
7
Status
Not close friends, but people I've seen in classes since freshman year.

Blue Orchid said:
Are these girls your friends? If so, maybe you can talk to them in private, ask what's going on, and most importantly, try to understand them and offer your support if need be. Not saying you should condone cutting...but let them know you care about their well-being. If they're not your friends...well, then there's no easy way to go about it without seeming like a busybody.

Hope this helps a bit!
 

DarkFark

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 5, 2005
634
0
35
Status
Medical Student
AStudent said:
Not close friends, but people I've seen in classes since freshman year.
If they aren't close friends, then do you know any of their close friends? they might be able to help you with this.
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
Touchy subject. What you should do is talk to the person you are concerned about. Be straight forward but not accusatory. Tell them that you would like to see them see someone about it. Be insistant but not demanding.

Cutting is about control. Controlling your own pain and the release of your emotions is manifested very concretely in a tactile, visual, intesely private sort of a way. If you go behind their back to a dean or a counselor then you are not allowing them to control their own treatment and you'll likely add to the problem. Please, please, please listen to me on this point. Going over their head or behind their back will likely only make the problem worse. The person in question has to make the decision themselves. All you can do is open doorways.

Find a counselor, get their number, show the person the path, but they have to make the appointment and go.

Because cutting is so intensely private for most people that do it, if the person in question doesn't want to talk to you about it, don't make them. Don't talk about it in front of other people or talk about it with others behind their back. Make it one on one and let the person lead the way. More than likely they know what they're doing is not healthy and they'll either directly or indirectly take what you say as facilitation of their recovery.

Feel free to PM me if there are less appropriately public sorts of questions.

Here's a really excellent resource for people that are interested.

http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/injury.html

-dope-
 

GuyLaroche

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2005
798
1
Status
This concept of cutting is entirely new to me. What can possibly be the reward of mutilating yourself? I don't get anorexia either but at least I understand what the end result is supposed to be, however equally destructive it is. These sorts of issues are so difficult for me to grasp that when confronted with them, I am always so confused. I just cannot even get into the frame of mind of the person to even begin to comprehend it. I find this to be a limiting attribute....

Three girls? That sounds like a lot of girls to me. Are you sure they're cutting? I don't mean to discount your observations. However, in the case of anorexia, I know more than a few girls who go about accusing every thin girl of anorexia simply because of some weird female-a-female envy. Of course, I don't think you would be making a claim against these girls for a similar reason. Still, sometimes we look to others to find faults because those faults, if found in others, make ours less visible by comparison. Are you sure your motives are entirely noble in seeking out help for these girls? I don't mean to offend you if in fact that's what I am doing. I am just curious.

More than that, I am also concerned that what is noticeable to us the most are things that we see within ourselves. I would imagine that if the scars are noticeable in the three girls, other people would have seen them too. Perhaps you could band with these other people and discuss a strategy. However, if this is something only you have noticed, then you have to wonder (well, I do anyhow) if you are not searching for something you have personal knowledge of. Again, this is not to shift the focus onto you. I am just examining all of the issues because all parties might need some help. Again, I am likely to incur the wrath of the flame watchdogs, but I hope you understand what I mean.

I do not have answers. These issues are so riveting and yet so difficult for me to grasp. Still, I hope your intentions are noble and that you find an even nobler course of action. Well-trained psychologists/psychiatrists are probably people you should be speaking with.

Good bless.
 

Will Ferrell

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 19, 2004
778
2
Status
I don't think premed stress has anything to do with it. I heard some people enjoy the feeling of causing pain to themselves. I guess it's a masochistic thing. I remember some girl in HS who used to do that and she loved being the abused ***** of the party (no joke).

I wouldn't nark them out to a counselor even though I know you're not trying to get them in trouble.
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
Will Ferrell said:
I don't think premed stress has anything to do with it. I heard some people enjoy the feeling of causing pain to themselves. I guess it's a masochistic thing. I remember some girl in HS who used to do that and she loved being the abused ***** of the party (no joke).

I wouldn't nark them out to a counselor even though I know you're not trying to get them in trouble.
Self injury is different from masochism. Generally, it's not at all about attention and it's certainly not sexual.
 

APTX

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2005
104
0
Status
Will Ferrell said:
I don't think premed stress has anything to do with it. I heard some people enjoy the feeling of causing pain to themselves. I guess it's a masochistic thing. I remember some girl in HS who used to do that and she loved being the abused ***** of the party (no joke).
I knew a girl who hurt herself not because she liked it, but because she had much emotional pain inside of her that she didn't know how to deal with it safely. Physical pain was just a way to distract her from the pain that was eating her up from inside. That, actually, sounds understandable.
 

JuicyDay

Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 23, 2004
86
0
Status
I good friend of mine was telling me about a girl she knew at college that cut herself for different reasons than what's been mentioned so far:

she wanted to feel something because she was so depressed that she could not feel anything else. Pain was the only thing that made her feel "human", because that was the only feeling left in her to be generated. She felt she had nothing to contribute or take from society because society could not evoke emotion in her. She understood everything going on around her, and was in fact at the top of her class at an Ivy, but no one and nothing could make her happy. It's got to be the loneliest/ most unbearable state, i think.

well, i don't know if that scenario applies to any of those 3 girls. it's certainly a tough situation, and i agree with what dopaminophile suggested.
 

fateema368

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2005
203
0
Minnesota
Status
Sure they weren't just shaving accidents after too much caffeine?

There superficial, you have more to worry about from a friend who can't hold his drink, in high school all the girls cut, they get really good at wound care, and rarely do serious damage, and if they do, that's their issue.
................Besides didn't you graduate already?
 

Sarikate

Full of antioxidants
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2004
663
1
40
Status
Medical Student
As a social worker, I see plenty of cutters, anorexics, kids who projectile vomit on demand, kids who set themselves on fire, you name it. You would be surprised at how many teenagers, girls especially, are sometimes-cutters. It is a very common, but serious, problem that really needs to be addressed more. But it's difficult to address it. Cutting is a VERY touchy subject for people. Most cutters are intensely private about their habit - which it quickly becomes - and to be confronted about it is threatening to them. Obviously, cutters know that their behavior is abnormal. They often feel repulsed about themselves, even while they're cutting, but it is the only way they know how to expel pain. Some cutters are diligent in their preparation, action, and recovery - they sterilize their instruments, cut where the wounds will not be visible, use antiseptic and bandages and Neosporin to aid in the healing process. For some, the act of cutting is a means to an end - being able to watch an open wound heal is something tangible, comforting. Others like the pain, or like to watch themselves bleed. Like many of you mentioned above, it is about being able to feel - a physical outlet for emotional pain that is often so overwhelming, it is tucked away where it can't be reached.

Curiously enough, cutting behavior is linked to bulimia, which is another method of expulsion from the body. Unlike anorexia, bulimics feel relief when they expel the undigested food from their binges. Just like cutting, binging and purging is a way to numb oneself - it keeps the person occupied, concentrating on something other than their very intense feelings. It's all about getting something that is inside the body, making the person very uncomfortable, OUT of the body.

So...broaching the subject to someone: If you are not very close to these girls, I would suggest finding someone who is, who you also trust, to talk about the best way to bring up the subject. If you don't know any of their friends, definitely talk with a counselor at school. You should probably do that anyway, just to cover yourself. I would not suggest going to the girls' parents or other family members, who are often part of the problem in the first place.

Above all, the most important thing to remember is that these girls are not psycho masochistic die-hards; they are obviously pained and sad and are just dealing with it the only way they know how. Be direct but not condescending. Be their friend. Bring little joys into their lives if you can: a smile, an invitation to lunch, a good book you've read, whatever. Cutters isolate themselves so much and need good social networks.

It's great that you are concerned, and don't be afraid to show it! We all have our bizarre coping strategies and really are not in the position to judge anyone else's - only try to help them out to be healthier. You can do it!
 

qqq

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 10, 2005
192
0
Status
This thread made me think of the movie Thirteen. It's a good movie worth seeing.
 

FloridaMadame

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 30, 2005
154
2
Status
Sarikate said:
As a social worker, I see plenty of cutters, anorexics, kids who projectile vomit on demand, kids who set themselves on fire, you name it. You would be surprised at how many teenagers, girls especially, are sometimes-cutters. It is a very common, but serious, problem that really needs to be addressed more. But it's difficult to address it. Cutting is a VERY touchy subject for people. Most cutters are intensely private about their habit - which it quickly becomes - and to be confronted about it is threatening to them. Obviously, cutters know that their behavior is abnormal. They often feel repulsed about themselves, even while they're cutting, but it is the only way they know how to expel pain. Some cutters are diligent in their preparation, action, and recovery - they sterilize their instruments, cut where the wounds will not be visible, use antiseptic and bandages and Neosporin to aid in the healing process. For some, the act of cutting is a means to an end - being able to watch an open wound heal is something tangible, comforting. Others like the pain, or like to watch themselves bleed. Like many of you mentioned above, it is about being able to feel - a physical outlet for emotional pain that is often so overwhelming, it is tucked away where it can't be reached.

Curiously enough, cutting behavior is linked to bulimia, which is another method of expulsion from the body. Unlike anorexia, bulimics feel relief when they expel the undigested food from their binges. Just like cutting, binging and purging is a way to numb oneself - it keeps the person occupied, concentrating on something other than their very intense feelings. It's all about getting something that is inside the body, making the person very uncomfortable, OUT of the body.

So...broaching the subject to someone: If you are not very close to these girls, I would suggest finding someone who is, who you also trust, to talk about the best way to bring up the subject. If you don't know any of their friends, definitely talk with a counselor at school. You should probably do that anyway, just to cover yourself. I would not suggest going to the girls' parents or other family members, who are often part of the problem in the first place.

Above all, the most important thing to remember is that these girls are not psycho masochistic die-hards; they are obviously pained and sad and are just dealing with it the only way they know how. Be direct but not condescending. Be their friend. Bring little joys into their lives if you can: a smile, an invitation to lunch, a good book you've read, whatever. Cutters isolate themselves so much and need good social networks.

It's great that you are concerned, and don't be afraid to show it! We all have our bizarre coping strategies and really are not in the position to judge anyone else's - only try to help them out to be healthier. You can do it!
I think you offered excellent advice. This is a very serious problem that needs to be addressed and your suggestions were correct and thorough.
 

sockandmittens

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 7, 2004
340
0
Status
Cutting is more common that often suspected. Sometimes seen with severe depression (I had one close friend who started as a result of hormone medications she was on that made her depresed- I assume that she's a rare case)

Another friend has been labeled with Borderline personality disorder, in which cutting is quite common.

If you've noticed, their friends have likely noticed as well. I would try to contact a school counselor, residential dean, etc. to get advice about how you could refer them or approach them. Best of luck-
 

PineappleGirl

Sweet and Juicy!
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 30, 2004
926
1
Boston
Status
Don't know if this might help or if anyone can confirm or deny, but I remember my abnormal psych prof saying that cutters whose scars are visible, as AStudent says these girls scars are, are more likely/willing to talk about their cutting than those cutters who hide their scars, e.g., cut only on the inside of their thighs, etc.
 

uptoolate

SDN Angel
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2004
257
0
Status
I was going to write something similar to Pineapplegirl- I've worked with bulimics and similarly, those that are calling out for help are significantly less surreptitious than those that don't. Meaning- if they weren't looking for help, they'd be cutting somewhere not generally visible. That said, I have to reiterate what sockandmittens wrote: talk to a professional about how the subject should be broached. On several occasions I have seen how a well-meaning but indelicate outing/approach/intervention has had unexpected consequences.
 

leaft

Member
10+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
86
0
Status
Resident [Any Field]
A character on the last season of MTVs real world was a cutter.
The following website links to the MTV site, and the episode that her cutting was discovered in. If you happen to be able to watch this episode, it actually explains the state of mind that she is in while cutting very well. So, I suggest looking at the website, but in case you don't feel like checking it out-- it ends with "For more information about cutting or to be connected to services in your area, call the NMHA (Nat'l Mental Health) at 1-800-969-NMHA (6642)."

http://www.mtv.com/onair/dyn/realworld-season14/episode.jhtml?episodeID=68942
 

rockstar2525

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jul 13, 2004
342
0
Status
Thanks for your post Sarikate, that's great advice. I work in a treatment center for chemically dependent teenagers and see many of the same issues. I second the notion that all you can do is show the path to recovery. Get phone numbers of counselors/social workers who deal with self-injury, more information about SI and give it to the women who are cutting themselves, or to someone who is a closer friend to these women. You can show them the path, but you CANNOT make them walk down it. People recover from things like eating disorders, addiction/alcoholism, and cutting when THEY are ready. There are actions you can take, but you can't save anyone from themselves. Do your best to open the door, but please remember that you aren't a failure if they don't choose to walk through it right away. Also know that sometimes offering help to someone will just "plant a seed" and while they make not take your advice and seek help immediately, down the road they may remember what you've said and then later take action.
 

stinkycheese

Stinky and Cheesy
10+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2004
1,247
4
Status
One thing that hasn't been mentioned here is that cutting is generally not a step towards suicide, so even though cutters do inflict harm on themselves, it is generally not life-threatening unless they cut too deep, and most do not intend to kill themselves through cutting. That needs to be known.

Additionally, it has become a widespread belief (valid or not) that most cutters have a form of Borderline Personality Disorder, which is also highly comorbid with eating disorders, thereby connecting bulimia, borderline, and cutting. People with BPD have a real, and serious, personality problem that would benefit from intense therapy, but generally, people with BPD don't trust others enough to pursue any sort of long-term therapy. They can also be very upset with friends who try to interfere with their life. So tread lightly. I agree with Dopa that going above their heads is not the way to do this. Talk to them first, ask them to see a counselor, and tell them that for their safety, if they cannot see a counselor, you feel you must tell a school counselor yourself. Don't go to an academic dean or administrator, make sure it's to a school counselor. You don't want to get any mental health notes into their academic file!! That would likely make your friends feel betrayed, esp if they are BPD. Good luck.
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
I'd like to point out how exceptionally high-quality this thread has turned out to be. There's no flaming, almost no misinformation, and a spectacular amount of well-measured advice from people that really know what they're talking about.

Stinkycheese's point that cutting doesn't mean suicidal is an excellent one. Sometimes the two are correlated as part of a mixture of problems, but they aren't the same thing. The only common misconception that I can think of that hasn't been covered is the gender gap. Most people tend to think that it's almost exclusively a female mechanism. While most *reported* self-injurers are women, between 15 & 34% are men. The former number (15) comes from a survey of patients in treatment. The latter number (34) comes from an anonymous survey of visitors to the site to which I linked earlier.

I didn't know the close correlation of SI with Borderline Personality Disorder. It an interesting point that I'll look into more. Thanks!
 

stinkycheese

Stinky and Cheesy
10+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2004
1,247
4
Status
dopaminophile said:
I didn't know the close correlation of SI with Borderline Personality Disorder. It an interesting point that I'll look into more. Thanks!
It's a controversial topic. Many clinicians sort of write off patients with BPD as untreatable, "horror patients", the worst they've ever had, etc. This is because BPD people can become extremely attached to their therapists while also remaining volatile and having stormy interactions with them. (I worked in a BPD research group for a year.) So they'll call their therapists at odd hours and get mad when the shrinks aren't available to talk, and then scream at them for the next hour-long session, then cry when they have to leave for the day. It's a very interesting set of behaviors and over the years has become a sort of "wastebasket diagnosis", with clinicians lumping every "difficult" or "complicated" patint into the "borderline" category -- whether true or not!

However, even despite these biases, it does seem from my simple observations that many of the 'true blue' borderlines that I have encountered are, indeed, cutters. This doesn't mean that many cutters are borderline, but only the other way around. It seems like a lot of the complicated feelings behind cutters are also common feelings in bpd's.

I agree with Dopa that this thread is one of the most cooperative and informative threads I've seen on pre-allo. :)
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
dopaminophile said:
Touchy subject. What you should do is talk to the person you are concerned about. Be straight forward but not accusatory. Tell them that you would like to see them see someone about it. Be insistant but not demanding.

Cutting is about control. Controlling your own pain and the release of your emotions is manifested very concretely in a tactile, visual, intesely private sort of a way. If you go behind their back to a dean or a counselor then you are not allowing them to control their own treatment and you'll likely add to the problem. Please, please, please listen to me on this point. Going over their head or behind their back will likely only make the problem worse. The person in question has to make the decision themselves. All you can do is open doorways.

Find a counselor, get their number, show the person the path, but they have to make the appointment and go.

Because cutting is so intensely private for most people that do it, if the person in question doesn't want to talk to you about it, don't make them. Don't talk about it in front of other people or talk about it with others behind their back. Make it one on one and let the person lead the way. More than likely they know what they're doing is not healthy and they'll either directly or indirectly take what you say as facilitation of their recovery.

Feel free to PM me if there are less appropriately public sorts of questions.

Here's a really excellent resource for people that are interested.

http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/injury.html

-dope-
in all due respect, i'm not sure I agree with you. Self-inflicted violence is a psychological illness. Sometimes a cutter can not control themself because they have never learned of healthy ways to cope with stress, anxiety or depression. Their self-injury is a behavioral response to an emotional state. It is both public display and private self-abuse, a morbid secret and a public confession. Just like a victim of anorexia or other eating disorders, they may not always see that their behavior is harmful and will not seek help on their own. A true friend WILL intervene and get them the help that they so desperately need and may be incapable of soliciting. Self-abuse will NOT go away on it's own, it does need intervention. If you (the OP) care, and you seem like you do, do not take this lightly.
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
fateema368 said:
Sure they weren't just shaving accidents after too much caffeine?

There superficial, you have more to worry about from a friend who can't hold his drink, in high school all the girls cut, they get really good at wound care, and rarely do serious damage, and if they do, that's their issue.
................Besides didn't you graduate already?
shaving accidents? come on, why is people taking this so lightly? Cutting is a serious and well known pyschological problem mostly in teenaged girls. Self-injury is a maladaptive coping mechanism, a way to stay alive. People who inflict physical harm on themselves such as cutting are often doing it in an attempt to maintain psychological integrity...it's a way to keep from killing themselves. They release unbearable feelings and pressures through self-harm, and that eases their urge toward suicide. Feeling the physical pain also helps them numb the emotional or psychological pain tha tis associated with cutters. Studies have suggested that when people who self-injure get emotionally overwhelmed, an act of self-harm brings their levels of psychological and physiological tension and arousal back to a bearable baseline level almost immediately.
 

stinkycheese

Stinky and Cheesy
10+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2004
1,247
4
Status
Psycho Doctor said:
in all due respect, i'm not sure I agree with you. Self-inflicted violence is a psychological illness.
It's a symptom of psychiatric illness, not an illness in and of itself.

Psycho Doctor said:
shaving accidents? come on, why is people taking this so lightly? Cutting is a serious and well known pyschological problem mostly in teenaged girls. Self-injury is a maladaptive coping mechanism, a way to stay alive. People who inflict physical harm on themselves such as cutting are often doing it in an attempt to maintain psychological integrity...it's a way to keep from killing themselves. They release unbearable feelings and pressures through self-harm, and that eases their urge toward suicide. Feeling the physical pain also helps them numb the emotional or psychological pain tha tis associated with cutters. Studies have suggested that when people who self-injure get emotionally overwhelmed, an act of self-harm brings their levels of psychological and physiological tension and arousal back to a bearable baseline level almost immediately.
Most of the things you wrote are correct, however most cutters are not even remotely thinking about suicide when they cut. So that is false.
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
rockstar2525 said:
Thanks for your post Sarikate, that's great advice. I work in a treatment center for chemically dependent teenagers and see many of the same issues. I second the notion that all you can do is show the path to recovery. Get phone numbers of counselors/social workers who deal with self-injury, more information about SI and give it to the women who are cutting themselves, or to someone who is a closer friend to these women. You can show them the path, but you CANNOT make them walk down it. People recover from things like eating disorders, addiction/alcoholism, and cutting when THEY are ready. There are actions you can take, but you can't save anyone from themselves. Do your best to open the door, but please remember that you aren't a failure if they don't choose to walk through it right away. Also know that sometimes offering help to someone will just "plant a seed" and while they make not take your advice and seek help immediately, down the road they may remember what you've said and then later take action.
With all due respect people have also died for failure to realize the severity of their psychological problems such as anorexia and bulemia. I suppose there are also incidents of death related to self-injury although am not personally aware of any. Therefore if you can not convince a cutter to get help, I am suggesting one takes a firm hand in leading them to the help they desperately need. Now i do admit any of my personal experience with this has all vbeen with underage girls so maybe that's why my advice is strong on reporting it. However even in schools when there is no parent prsent someone needs to take action. Wasn't there some case of an Asian student at MIT (?) who self-injured herself throu burns and finally killed herself. The family sued that the school had not done anything about it.
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
Psycho Doctor said:
in all due respect, i'm not sure I agree with you. Self-inflicted violence is a psychological illness. Sometimes a cutter can not control themself because they have never learned of healthy ways to cope with stress, anxiety or depression. Their self-injury is a behavioral response to an emotional state. It is both public display and private self-abuse, a morbid secret and a public confession. Just like a victim of anorexia or other eating disorders, they may not always see that their behavior is harmful and will not seek help on their own. A true friend WILL intervene and get them the help that they so desperately need and may be incapable of soliciting. Self-abuse will NOT go away on it's own, it does need intervention. If you (the OP) care, and you seem like you do, do not take this lightly.
You're right, it is a coping mechanism for any number of issues that the person can't deal with appropriately. However, the basic premise is always the same. The person controls what they do physically as a means of coping with what they can't control emotionally.

You mention that they "cannot control themselves." Cutting is a habit, sure, but the effectiveness of cutting as a coping mechanism is the control one has over his or her body and pain.

In most cases, however, it is definitely not a "public display." People who SI usually go to great lengths to hide new cuts and come up with excuses for visible cuts and scars. Those that are more open, the girl on Real World for example, are much easier to help see a counselor. Even they, however, still need to be in control of their own treatment.

I hope I wasn't unclear. If you are close to the person, you should speak to them about it. As I said before, be insistant but not demanding. Leave that person in control of their situation. Otherwise, you are perpetuating what drives them to SI in the first place. My suggestion and my plea is that you speak to the person that is cutting first and only go speak to someone else if they consent to it. You can open doorways, find phone numbers, offer transportation, or do anything you can think of to facilitate their seeing a couselor but you can't have them arrested.

Self injury (except in very extreme cases) is not considered a reason to hospitalize someone against thier will--and it shouldn't be. The only person that can make the decision to get help is the cutter him/herself. It is good to insist that they go, but remember that you can't make them, nor should you.

-dope-
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
Psycho Doctor said:
With all due respect people have also died for failure to realize the severity of their psychological problems such as anorexia and bulemia. I suppose there are also incidents of death related to self-injury although am not personally aware of any. Therefore if you can not convince a cutter to get help, I am suggesting one takes a firm hand in leading them to the help they desperately need. Now i do admit any of my personal experience with this has all vbeen with underage girls so maybe that's why my advice is strong on reporting it. However even in schools when there is no parent prsent someone needs to take action. Wasn't there some case of an Asian student at MIT (?) who self-injured herself throu burns and finally killed herself. The family sued that the school had not done anything about it.
Most people who self injure are not teenage girls. The largest single demographic of known self-injurers are mid-20s to early 30s. The most visible are usually teenage girls.

In regards to reporting a self-injurer: Because it is not something for which the person can be hospitalized, the most likely effect that reporting will have is to make the person feel less in control. Talk to the person directly and open doors. Can you see my theme? :laugh:

You mentioned that self-injury "eases their urge toward suicide." This is simply not the case. Self injury is not at all the same as suicidal tendencies. Stinkycheese wrote a good post earlier on this point.

-dope-
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
dopaminophile said:
Most people who self injure are not teenage girls. The largest single demographic of known self-injurers are mid-20s to early 30s. The most visible are usually teenage girls.

In regards to reporting a self-injurer: Because it is not something for which the person can be hospitalized, the most likely effect that reporting will have is to make the person feel less in control. Talk to the person directly and open doors. Can you see my theme? :laugh:

You mentioned that self-injury "eases their urge toward suicide." This is simply not the case. Self injury is not at all the same as suicidal tendencies. Stinkycheese wrote a good post earlier on this point.

-dope-
ok i stand corrected that most are teenage girls. You're right, those are the most visible and also the ones I personally have had experience with. There have been many different studies on the suicide issue. Whereas most agree that self-injurers are not suicidal, much of their coping is their mechanism to handle problems so they do not harm themselves with suicide. Their psychological issues: anxiety, depression. self-hatred, low self-esteem are the same issues that drive others towards suicide.

and when you block people to avoid their attacks, you also miss anything valuable they might occasionally have to say :D
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
Psycho Doctor said:
ok i stand corrected that most are teenage girls. You're right, those are the most visible and also the ones I personally have had experience with. There have been many different studies on the suicide issue. Whereas most agree that self-injurers are not suicidal, much of their coping is their mechanism to handle problems so they do not harm themselves with suicide. Their psychological issues: anxiety, depression. self-hatred, low self-esteem are the same issues that drive others towards suicide.

and when you block people to avoid their attacks, you also miss anything valuable they might occasionally have to say :D
haha... awe... did you block stinky? She's feisty, but makes some really good points.
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
dopaminophile said:
haha... awe... did you block stinky? She's feisty, but makes some really good points.
she's more than feisty and evidently i'm not the only one who feels that way :D
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
Psycho Doctor said:
she's more than feisty and evidently i'm not the only one who feels that way :D
heh... well let's not drift down the path to a flame war... this thread is sooo exceptionally good!
 

stinkycheese

Stinky and Cheesy
10+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2004
1,247
4
Status
Psycho Doctor said:
With all due respect people have also died for failure to realize the severity of their psychological problems such as anorexia and bulemia. I suppose there are also incidents of death related to self-injury although am not personally aware of any. Therefore if you can not convince a cutter to get help, I am suggesting one takes a firm hand in leading them to the help they desperately need. Now i do admit any of my personal experience with this has all vbeen with underage girls so maybe that's why my advice is strong on reporting it. However even in schools when there is no parent prsent someone needs to take action. Wasn't there some case of an Asian student at MIT (?) who self-injured herself throu burns and finally killed herself. The family sued that the school had not done anything about it.
'

Yes, a woman at MIT set herself on fire. It is not clear whether she was trying to self-injure and something else ignited, or whether she was trying to kill herself. The liability for MIT there is that the girl had sought help through the campus counseling service and her parents had requested that she be placed on a psych leave, which the school ignored. The parents repeatedly tried to get MIT to monitor her more, which they did not. She was openly suicidal, and no measures were taken to prevent her suicide. And then she killed herself (on purpose or not) in a dormitory. There's a big difference between someone who is actively suicidal and who has sought help but has not received it, and someone who "merely" cuts and is not suicidal.
 

stinkycheese

Stinky and Cheesy
10+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2004
1,247
4
Status
dopaminophile said:
heh... well let's not drift down the path to a flame war... this thread is sooo exceptionally good!
Psycho's personal drama should not be in this thread, so I agree with Dopa, let's drop it... now.
 

pseudoknot

Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2004
2,925
6
41
Hershey, PA
Status
Attending Physician
I'd also like to say I'm pleasantly surprised by this thread (like, glad-I-was-sitting-down surprised...).

I highly recommend the book A Bright Red Scream for more information on this topic. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140280537/104-4056930-6779110

Also, it's quite true that self-injury is itself not suicidal behavior. However, there are many people who use it as a coping mechanism and are also suicidal, and often in these cases the self injury can be seen as an "antisuicidal" behavior.

One other thing I'd like to point out is the very, very high correlation between psychological trauma, usually sexual abuse, and cutting.
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
jrdnbenjamin said:
One other thing I'd like to point out is the very, very high correlation between psychological trauma, usually sexual abuse, and cutting.
I wasn't aware of this. In fact, I was under the impression that the meager correlation was due to the combination of problems brought about by sexual abuse rather than a "self-injury is caused by abuse" sort of scenario. I'm not really sure why I thought that. hmm.... I've got some reading to do.
 

stinkycheese

Stinky and Cheesy
10+ Year Member
Jun 12, 2004
1,247
4
Status
dopaminophile said:
I wasn't aware of this. In fact, I was under the impression that the meager correlation was due to the combination of problems brought about by sexual abuse rather than a "self-injury is caused by abuse" sort of scenario. I'm not really sure why I thought that. hmm.... I've got some reading to do.
Additionally, the vast majority of BPD's have histories of sexual abuse, adding another correlation to the network.
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
stinkycheese said:
Additionally, the vast majority of BPD's have histories of sexual abuse, adding another correlation to the network.
So is the inference of the "strong" correlation being that cutting is caused by sexual abuse? Do other things lead people to cutting as an alternative coping mechanism? It makes sense... sexual abuse leaves people with a feeling of being out of control... but are there other things with that can elicit the same reactions as powerfully?
 

deuist

Stealthfully Sarcastic
Lifetime Donor
15+ Year Member
Jun 14, 2004
4,484
373
Florida
Status
Attending Physician
leaft said:
A character on the last season of MTVs real world was a cutter.
The following website links to the MTV site, and the episode that her cutting was discovered in. If you happen to be able to watch this episode, it actually explains the state of mind that she is in while cutting very well. So, I suggest looking at the website, but in case you don't feel like checking it out-- it ends with "For more information about cutting or to be connected to services in your area, call the NMHA (Nat'l Mental Health) at 1-800-969-NMHA (6642)."

http://www.mtv.com/onair/dyn/realworld-season14/episode.jhtml?episodeID=68942

You can also try 1-800-SUICIDE
 

GuyLaroche

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2005
798
1
Status
All this talk of control reminds me of Janet's album "Rythym nation."

And there must be some truth to this need for control because didn't she then starve herself for years afterwards, pierce her body, then talk about deep, dark pain in "Velvet rope." Yeah, so maybe this control thing is what drives people nuts. She was, afterall, assaulted in front of the public by Mr. Timberlake, and stripped of her clothes. And to my surprise, no one came to her defence but instead lashed out at her. Her next album is probably going to be a remake of the the rythym nation 'cause her career is spiraling out of control at the moment. And didn't LaToya say something about their dad molesting them. Man, I am seeing the connection already. My $0.02.
 

Sarikate

Full of antioxidants
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2004
663
1
40
Status
Medical Student
Any kind of abuse can lead to a variety of maladaptive coping mechanisms. Being neglected as a young child, for instance - not having basic needs met or not having a sense of security in the home - or other types of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse can all cause cutting behavior. There is no easy equation for such things, unfortunately.
 

APTX

Senior Member
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Feb 9, 2005
104
0
Status
dopaminophile said:
So is the inference of the "strong" correlation being that cutting is caused by sexual abuse? Do other things lead people to cutting as an alternative coping mechanism? It makes sense... sexual abuse leaves people with a feeling of being out of control... but are there other things with that can elicit the same reactions as powerfully?
Emotional abuse seems to be a big one, as well. The girl I knew hurt herself because she never felt as though she could live up to her parents' high expectations for her (this was way back in high school). Feeling pain was her way of punishing herself for letting her parents down. (they found out later on what she did, but they thought it was just a rebellious phase) Fortunately she met a friend in college who understood how she felt and helped her out by just being there for her, and she hasn't relapsed since :)

I read The Luckiest Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron to get a better idea of what cutters go through. Some people think it's too overdramatic, but I thought it was a decent read.
 

dopaminophile

nerd extraordinaire
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Nov 29, 2004
833
2
37
Status
Blue Orchid said:
Emotional abuse seems to be a big one, as well. The girl I knew hurt herself because she never felt as though she could live up to her parents' high expectations for her (this was way back in high school). Feeling pain was her way of punishing herself for letting her parents down. (they found out later on what she did, but they thought it was just a rebellious phase) Fortunately she met a friend in college who understood how she felt and helped her out by just being there for her, and she hasn't relapsed since :)

I read The Luckiest Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron to get a better idea of what cutters go through. Some people think it's too overdramatic, but I thought it was a decent read.
I think that a lot of books and articles on the subject are taken to be overdramatic or sensationalized. It goes hand in hand with the views most people hold, that it's about attention-getting or shocking others. I haven't read any of those posted on here... perhaps a trip to the bookstore is in order.

What happened to the OP? You incited a great discussion but didn't add any thoughts. Marco...
 

GuyLaroche

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2005
798
1
Status
dopaminophile said:
I think that a lot of books and articles on the subject are taken to be overdramatic or sensationalized. It goes hand in hand with the views most people hold, that it's about attention-getting or shocking others. I haven't read any of those posted on here... perhaps a trip to the bookstore is in order.

What happened to the OP? You incited a great discussion but didn't add any thoughts. Marco...
I tried to subtly suggest that OP= 3 girls.

I suspect she is reading this post very carefully. I hope she is taking the good advice, and I hope she speaks to someone.
 

LBS615

LBS615
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jan 24, 2005
149
0
41
Boca Raton, Fl.
Status
Pharmacy Student
As a registered dietitian (starting pharm school in august) I have had experience working with eating disorders- that was one of my special rotations during my internship. Many girls and women with E.D. (eating disorders) cut. They do this as a way to make themselves feel better. For them the physical pain is better than the emotional pain. And, yes many of these girls/women had been sexually abused. They will also burn themselves if they do not have access to items to cut with. At the treatment facility for ED I did my internship at (I am also a consulting dietitian for them) these women have to be watched carefully and monitored. They have to go to the bathroom with staff member. This is a disease. Even after going through treatment the ED never fully leaves the person- it is part of them- they just learn how to surpress it.
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
GuyLaroche said:
I tried to subtly suggest that OP= 3 girls.

I suspect she is reading this post very carefully. I hope she is taking the good advice, and I hope she speaks to someone.
i always find it strange when someone posts a problem and never comes back to respond
 

Psycho Doctor

*** Angel
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2004
8,510
6
Status
Medical Student
jrdnbenjamin said:
Also, it's quite true that self-injury is itself not suicidal behavior. However, there are many people who use it as a coping mechanism and are also suicidal, and often in these cases the self injury can be seen as an "antisuicidal" behavior.
when i took my friend to see a counselor she was constantly questioned about suicidal tendencies so it's not out of the question and has to be addressed