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Why do People Cut Themselves?

Why do People Cut Themselves?

Skin-cutting, especially on the arms and wrist, is the most common form of self-injury, and majority of those engaged in such acts are teenagers. The following PsycholoGenie article describes a few possible reasons behind such a behavior.
Girija Shinde
The tendency to hurt oneself is not new, and the number of people who hurt themselves for no visible reason, has certainly increased lately. Wrists, arms, chest and even belly are the common sites of injury. There is no single reason behind this tendency, and the events that trigger episodes of self-injury, differ from person to person. Given below are some of the common conditions and situations behind such drastic acts.

Reasons Why People Cut Themselves

Coping Mechanism: Psychological strategies executed by the mind to cope with problematic or unfavorable situations are termed coping mechanisms. There are positive as well as negative coping mechanisms. For example, planning, self-control, discussing, sleeping are positive coping mechanisms.

Self injury is a type of negative coping mechanism. Some people cut themselves because they feel they can escape from the pressure of the situation they are in. However, they do not realize that it is only a temporary relief. Sometimes, people indulge in such an act in order to escape from intense feelings, especially the ones that are generally not accepted by the society.

To Attract Attention: Though this might sound weird, it is true. People, especially teenagers cut themselves to gain attention. These people always carry a feeling that they are not loved by anyone, and this thought makes them feel depressed. So they hurt themselves, and expect others to care for them on seeing their pain. People with a tendency to hurt themselves usually have a secret wish of making the people repent for their so-called careless behavior towards them.

Mental Health Issues: People suffering from mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, chronic depression, as well as eating disorders, tend to hurt themselves in some or the other way. When they reach the highest level of sorrow, the lack of emotions sometimes makes them suffer from panic attacks, causing them to injure themselves. When they see their blood, and experience the pain inflicted, they feel relieved, as they are assured that they are still capable of having some feeling. However, this is not the case with everyone suffering from mental illnesses, and is more commonly seen in people who have suffered from severe childhood trauma or abuse.

Introversion: People who cannot express themselves freely, and suppress feelings of anger, affection, or frustration, tend to hurt themselves as a way of expressing these feelings. It is a way to vent out the frustration that has accumulated over a long period of time. They want someone to approach them, and understand their feelings. They need, and want help but they are too shy to say anything to anyone directly. So they cut themselves, expecting that people will somehow understand their inner turbulence.

Compulsive Behavior: When a part of the body gets injured, the brain automatically secretes/releases endorphins. Endorphin is a neurochemical which provides a sense of well-being, helping in relieving stress or mental pain. When people realize, that cutting can provide instant relief from mental pain, they develop a habit or compulsive behavior of cutting themselves. Whenever they experience mental pain, they unknowingly develop an uncontrollable urge to cut themselves.

Individuals who cut or harm themselves, need affection and help. So if you are wondering how to help people who cut themselves, do not scold them. Also, do not try to stop them from crying, and ensure that they are not pressurized emotionally. Instead, take them to a therapist, whom they can trust and freely talk to. The therapist will train them to handle their stress, and gradually they will learn to handle every situation of their lives in a positive manner.

Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.