What is with all the cutting? (Technically known as self mutilative behaviors). Has it’s frequency increased tenfold? Or has it always existed at the current prevalence? Why is it dangerous? Does it correlate to suicide?
We should spend more time talking about its origin. If we know its origin we can kill it at inception. So why does it become a habit for some and not a habit for others, and do not be mistaken, it is very much a habit. I’d even be more inclined to classify it as an addiction. Ask people who cut, they will tell you that once entrenched in this habit, crawling out from under its power is comparable to climbing a wall of quicksand. The common denominator in most people who cut seem to be lack of a stable caregiver. It becomes a substitute for talking to a rational, calm parental figure. It calms them down, much like a parent should. Unfortunately a lot of people grow up without that soothing parental figure and need to seek alternative options for soothing.
Now how does slicing a gash into your arm with a razor blade become an act of soothing? Counter intuitive yes. This scenario emerges for several reasons. Here are a couple.
Children become conditioned to seek out irritation to soothe themselves if once exposed to an irritated caregiver for prolonged periods of time. It becomes the norm and perceived by the infant or toddler to be commonplace. Truth is, most of us experience this dynamic due to the difficulties of parenthood. Most caregivers are irritated to a certain degree. However there are varying levels of irritation which explains why some do and some do not cut. It also explains a lot of other dysfunction, but for now we’ll stay on topic. Unfortunately, as human beings we do what we know as opposed to what’s good for us, hence the strong addictive quality to all forms of dysfunction.
The cutting itself isn’t actually the part that soothes. In the moment, there is a sense of relief when the skin first breaks as a result of dragging a paper clip or a razor blade across the forearm. But the more unconscious dynamic that is occurring is the knowledge that they still feel anything at all. The scariest thing for people which leads to feeling out of control and possibly psychotic, is the inability to appropriately feel any emotions. It’s a repetitive test to see if the one primal feeling of pain still exists. If it does, it then leads to a feeling of solace since any feelings at all still occur in that human being. It has been said that the last step before suicidality is the feeling that someone is “already dead” inside. Cutting acts as a check in. “Do I still feel? Should I stick around?” If the person believes they still feel anything at all, then the concept of feeling positive emotions remains an attainable goal. Once completely desensitized, there’s nothing left to live for.