Abnormal Psychology: Personality Disorders
Who doesn’t find themselves in horrendous situations? Life is like a roller coaster ride and you never know what tomorrow holds! The expectations held close to our hearts with respect to our lives, our ambitions, job, marriage, children, etc. may not always see fruition. Lacerating comments from family, comrades or associates, tornadic situations at work, infidelity in marriage, etc. can blow the winds off our sails!
Life does not always give us what we want and at times we go through situations we don’t deserve. This is the law of life and it’s something we all encounter. However, not everyone embraces this fact! There are people who do not respond positively to harrowing events in their lives. Daunting situations impel them to injure themselves and this self injury is termed as cutting yourself disorder. Before reading more about this disorder we need to understand that this condition mostly affects people, who find themselves locked in chains of darkness; who live in a world of hopelessness and despair, which is why they react the way they do.
What is Cutting Yourself Disorder?
Also known as self mutilation disorder, cutting yourself disorder is a condition in which people debilitated by the current events end up cutting their wrists, hands, chest, belly, etc. with razor blades, knives, needles, pieces of glass, scissors or any other accessible sharp object. Besides cutting, other forms of self injury like banging the head on the wall, breaking one’s bones, lighting the hair or skin on fire, swallowing sharp objects to injure internal organs, drinking harmful chemicals, scratching one’s body, multiple piercing, glaring into the hot ball of Sun till one’s eyes relent, burning one’s skin with hot objects, interfering with wound healing process, etc. also come under cutting yourself disorder. People who resort to this kind of emotional defense mechanism for coping with stress and depression are referred to as cutters.
Why Do People Cut Themselves?
This disorder is often mistaken to be suicidal behavior, however, this is not true! People who cut themselves do not intend to kill themselves, instead this is their way to let out the pain piercing their hearts. They do not even wish to injure themselves, they just want to reduce the agony bottling within them. To put it in simpler terms, self injury is their way of emotional self-defense. When cutters watch the blood oozing out of their wounds, their emotional lacerations seem to palliate. The physical gash on their body causes their minds to digress from the tormenting thoughts caused by the dire situation. We can call this evasion from the truth of occurred events.
The tendency of cutting oneself is not only seen when one feels extreme pain, but, is also seen when depressed people cannot feel any emotion in them. They find themselves numb to sorrow, joy, anger and other emotions. The situations they encountered seemed to suck all their emotions away from them. They no longer feel human and warm, instead feel like a rag doll, unaffected, unstirred by things happening around them. To extricate themselves from this feeling of coldness and numbness, they injure their bodies; just to feel alive; to feel pain that is real. This gives them a more ‘on earth feeling’, rather than feeling stuck in a bottomless pit. Self injury effects are seen to affect the person’s study life, family and social life. Some even end up losing their jobs. Cutting is not the solution to coping with depression. By injuring oneself, a cutter does not realize that he or she is only dealing with the symptoms, rather than dealing with the underlying malaise.
Self Mutilation Disorder Statistics
The relief they attain by injuring themselves is temporary, which is why they keep doing it. About¬†2 million¬†Americans today resort to self injury as a mode of coping with depression. Myriads of people continue doing this for years at a stretch. The onset of this condition is seen mostly in puberty, wherein young people show symptoms like withdrawal, depression and extreme loneliness. Usually cutters will not reveal the true cause of their gashes. They fear that nobody will understand what they are going through and use self injury excuses like ‘the dog/cat scratched me‘, ‘I hurt myself while doing a task‘, etc. Large ratio of cutters correspond to women between the ages 13-30. However, this does not imply there are no older cutters. There are cutters of all ages, irrespective of gender. Most of these cutters are people who have been molested, physically abused or subsisters of incest. Family histories of alcohol, drug abuse and various personality disorders can also conduce to cutters.
Dealing with Cutting Yourself Disorder
Cutting is more like an addiction. Cutters knows it’s not the solution, however, they are unable to get out of the habit. Each time they get depressed, they find this the quickest way to soothe themselves. Thus, cutting is similar to any other addiction like smoking, drinking, pornography, etc. Cutters often make decisions to stop cutting, however, find themselves resorting to the same the next time they hit a roadblock in life.
Often people pass it off as a nervous habit, however, this condition is a serious psychological disorder that needs medical attention. We need to perceive the graveness and implications of this disorder. Having said this, it is important to ensure we don’t pronounce cutters as lunatic or crazy people. Cutters are extremely brilliant, creative and sensitive people, who have undergone enough overwhelming situations in life. If we cannot empathize with them, the least we can do is not judge and stigmatize them!
Do not try to take their defense mechanism from them without helping them cope with their stress. Espousing cutters and their situations will help break chains of hopelessness. Get them to trust you, listen patiently to them, speak words of encouragement, show them you care and pray for them. If you feel unequipped to help a cutter you know, lead them to somebody who can. But, don’t ignore them. Moreover, never gossip about them. There is nothing worse than gossiping about their condition.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.