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Cutting Oneself (Self-Injurious Behavior)

CONTACT US

E-mail: counselor@csmd.edu


LA PLATA CAMPUS

Ann Penick, MA, LCPC, NCC
Administration (AD) Building, Room 205
Phone: 301-934-7577
Email:  APenick@csmd.edu


LEONARDTOWN CAMPUS

Jennifer Fossell, LCSW-C
Building A, Room 204E
Phone: 240-725-5328
Email:  jfossell@csmd.edu


PRINCE FREDERICK CAMPUS

Jennifer Fossell, LCSW-C
Building B, Room 109B
Phone: 443-550-6169
Email: jfossell@csmd.edu

Most people have heard of cutting, but many don’t realize that this type of self-injury is often linked to other emotional/psychological problems. Detecting and intervening with someone who is self-cutting can be difficult since the practice is often done in secret and involves parts of the body that are relatively easy to hide. Some reasons people self-cut are because of overwhelming sadness, anxiety, emotional numbness, a need to feel in control, to relieve stress, to create visible and treatable wounds, to purify one’s body, to reenact a trauma in an attempt to resolve it, and to protect others from one’s own emotional pain. Self-cutting can also be linked to childhood physical and/or sexual abuse, depression, eating disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse problems.

Symptoms of Cutting

  • Constant use of wristbands, large watchbands, or large bracelets
  • Dressing inappropriately for the season of the year
  • Unexplained burns, cuts, bruising, scars, healing or healed wounds, or similar markings on the skin
  • Frequent bandages or other methods of covering wounds, such as with make-up
  • Implausible stories which may explain one, but not all, physical injuries present
  • Odd/unexplainable paraphernalia, such as carrying around razor blades
  • Unwillingness to participate in activities that require less body coverage, such as swimming

Definition

Cutting is the act of intentionally inflicting harm on oneself, usually without suicidal intent. It is an unhealthy coping mechanism. While cutting may occur on any part of the body, it is most common on the hands, wrists, stomach, and thighs. Tattoos or body piercing are NOT typically considered self-injurious behavior unless undertaken with the intention of causing harm to oneself.  Not everyone who cuts does so for the same reasons.

Types of Self-Cutting Behavior or “Self-Injurious” Behavior

  • Breaking bones
  • Cutting with a sharp object<
  • Ripping or pulling skin or hair
  • Self-bruising
  • Swallowing toxic substances