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  •  The amazing thing about cutting (4+ / 0-)

    Is that it's hard-wired in some people.  In the mid-1990s, I knew one cutter in her mid-20s well.  Freaked me out, but I did what I could to help her.  The amazing thing was when the NYT Mag did an article about the phenomenon in the summer of 1997 because it made her realize she was part of a community of people who had all independently decided to engage in this activity before it was discussed and reinforced publicly.

    For her, it was a way of harnessing a variety of pains and traumas from her past and taking control over them by directing where they'd go.  She never (while we were together) dealt with a therapist to try to kick it, because she was afraid of being taken "away".  I don't know what happened next.

    •  link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This may work for some people.  Matches my observations:

      Self-injury rarely stops after two or three incidents. According to the only large-scale survey ever taken of self-injurers (240 American females), in 1989, the average practitioner begins at 14 -- as Jill did -- and continues injuring, often with increasing severity into her late 20's. Generally white, she is also likely to suffer from other compulsive disorders like bulimia or alcoholism. Dr. Jan Hart, who surveyed 87 high-functioning self-injurers for her 1996 doctoral dissertation at U.C.L.A., found their most common professions to be teacher and nurse, followed by manager.

      The notion of teachers, nurses and high-school students like Jill seeking out ways to hurt themselves in a culture where the avoidance of pain and discomfort is a virtual obsession may seem paradoxical. But it isn't. People harm themselves because it makes them feel better; they use physical pain to obfuscate a deeper, more intolerable psychic pain associated with feelings of anger, sadness or abandonment. Often, the injury is used to relieve the pressure or hysteria these emotions can cause, as it did for Jill; it can also jolt people out of states of numbness and emptiness -- it can make them feel alive.

      These mood-regulating effects, along with a certain addictive quality (over time, the injurer usually must hurt herself more frequently and more violently to achieve the same degree of relief), have prompted many clinicians to speculate that cutting, for example, releases the body's own opiates, known as beta-endorphins. According to Lisa Cross, a New Haven psychotherapist who has treated self-injurers, patients have for centuries described the sensation of being bled in the same terms of relief and release as she hears from self-injurers. And people who have been professionally scarred or pierced sometimes describe feeling high from the experience.

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