Cutting is quite common among young adolescents, but the phenomenon is increasing among adults as well.
Cutting is defined as the most common form of self-injury. Cutters injure themselves with sharp or blunt instruments in order to feel physical pain which masks the internal, emotional pain they are feeling inside.
Most cutters are young females and teenage boys who suffer from depression or social anxiety. The cuts are usually superficial, just deep enough to draw blood, on areas such as the face, arms, chest, or abdomen.
Our culture's current obsession with tattoos is also seen as a form of self-injury among the young. An example of a troubled celebrity who practices self-injury -- disguised as self-expression -- is singer Rihanna, who recently carved a crude cross into her neck (see photo above).
According to Psychcentral.com, "Self-injury is used by people — to drown out emotional pain with something else. In the case of self-injury, that something else is physical pain. It focuses your attention and takes your mind off of your emotional pain, if only for a little while."
Self-harm is most common in adolescence and young adulthood, usually first appearing between the ages of 12 and 24.
Troubled young men like Lil Wayne go overboard with tattoos to feel intense pain in order to cover up their feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, stress, low self-esteem and depression.
The most severe form of self-injurious behavior is committing suicide. The suicide rate is climbing among adolescents who see no other escape from their emotional pain.
According to a Newsweek article titled "Why She Cuts," "self-injury isn’t recognized as a mental disorder by itself. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be treated. Treatment usually is done through psychotherapy, and focuses on helping the person identify their own triggers for self-injurious behavior, and find alternative methods for helping them deal with the emotional pain in their life."
Most people believe that cutters cut themselves for attention, but this is not true in most cases. Some cutters are very self-conscious about their scars. They will conceal the scars under clothing or makeup.
Treatment includes years of therapy, and/or anti-psychotropic, anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications. Some patients require hospitalization to prevent them from seriously injuring or killing themselves.
If you know a friend or family member who is a cutter, encourage them to call the Georgia Counseling Helpline at (404) 237-7281.
This has been your Medical Minute.
More Info On The Web
Why Are So Many Girls Cutting Themselves - Psychologytoday.com
Cutting and Self Harm - Webmd.com
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