Cut to the Quick: Avoiding Self-Harm and Cutting With Health Coping Mechanisms

Princess Diana, the well-loved Princess of Wales gives a helpful insight into the mind of those who indulge in cutting and self-injury: “You have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help.” Princess Diana admitted in a 1995 BBC interview that she had cutting and self-injuring tendencies.

And Princess Diana is not alone. An estimated one percent of adults and teens in the country have, at one point or another, shown some type of self-abusive tendencies. This includes practices such as:

– Cutting
– Anorexia
– Fracturing the bones
– Burning or piercing of the skin
– Banging the hear or pulling out hair
– Cutting symbols or words onto the skin
– Preventing the healing process to be fully complete

When these tendencies are allowed to persist without treatment, this behavior will worsen over the years. There may be a need to go for Utah counseling.

A self-injurer may look “normal” at the outside and is usually female. She is more likely in the prime of her life (middle 20s to early 30s) and usually will belong in the upper-middle or middle class. The cutting may be traced to experiences of physical or sexual abuse, as well as a dysfunctional family environment. Cutting and self-injury is usually rooted in a deeper problem. . Provo counseling will not only aim towards stopping the act of cutting but also to delve into the root causes.

Self-injury Defined

Self-injury is defined as intentionally causing injury to the body. This is usually manifested in making cuts or burns in some areas of the body. Self-injury is a coping mechanism that one may use to ward off feelings that may seem to overwhelm. A self-cutter will usually perform these acts to cope with anger, frustration, stress or feelings of emptiness and loss of control.

More often than not, self-injury also goes together with other psychological problems such as anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or eating disorders. They may perform acts of self-injury to:

– Provide a temporary relief from what they are feeling
– Gain a sense of calm and control over their situation
– Provide some form of self-punishment, for what the individual perceives as his failure. It can also be seen as a cry for help
– Feel “alive” when feelings of emptiness become overwhelming. Cutting results in the release of endorphins, which give the body a certain rush.

Dealing with a Self-Cutter

Some signs of self-injury include:

– The presence of cuts, scratches and scars. Usually, these are unexplained.
– Having sharp objects nearby or in his person. This includes needles, razors, shaving implements
– Being “accident prone’”- where someone suffers from an unexpected number of broken bones, bruises and scars from cuts or burns
– Blood stains on clothes, tissues, bed linen and towels.
– Insistence on wearing “cover up” clothes such as long sleeved shirts and long pants, even during hot weather
– Need for isolation and “privacy”. A person who self-injures will avoid getting dressed or undressed in front of others, He will also brood or stay in the bathroom or bedroom for extended periods of time.

If you are a parent whose child shows symptoms of self-injury, it can be quite a challenge. It may require a fine balancing act – wanting your child to be safe and supporting your child as he heals. You may need to deal with personal feelings of guilt and self-doubt.

Some do’s and don’ts include:

– Don’t assume that the cutting is just a passing phase with your child. Seek help immediately. This can come in the form of family counseling in Provo. An experienced family counselor can help sort out the reasons and the triggers for cutting behavior.
– Do recognize the need for help. This is when family counseling in Utah can be helpful.
– Don’t hide knives, blades or any sharp objects. If a person is intent of injuring himself, no amount of hiding will deter him.
– Do show your support and unconditional love.
– Do keep yourself informed and educated. It will benefit the family to understand that cutting has an underlying cause and that it won’t be “fixed” by a few visits to the therapists or the taking of medication. The road to recovery will be a long and arduous journey.
– Don’t pile on the guilt. On yourself or on the self-cutter.

Dealing with self-harm problems will need the cooperation of the entire family.  This will help each member understand the loved one’s condition and know how they can respond and relate with him.  Provo therapists can also help identify self-harm triggers to help the loved one manage these triggers.

With the help of an experienced therapist, a self-cutter can find his way towards healthy ways to cope with emotional pressure and to deal with difficult situations.


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