For most, the idea of harming oneself is unimaginable.  But for some, self-mutilation is an escape from the traumas of their lives.  As a general rule, people seek out that which is most familiar and comfortable to them.  When what is familiar and comfortable is the pain of abuse, that does not always stop the individual from pursuing pain as a source of comfort.  For the most part, the person who harms him or herself (though it is more common for the self-mutilator to be female) is suffering from a combination of depressive and anxiety disorders.

There are many misconceptions surrounding self-mutilation.  One of the most common is the idea that the self-mutilator is suicidal.  This is not always the case.  Cutting should be differentiated from suicidal gestures because the self-mutilator is often deliberate and meticulous to make sure that they don’t take it farther than they intend.  However, as this disorder progresses, the chances of accidentally taking it farther than intended increases.  If you or someone you know is struggling with this, please seek help.

The good news here is that, for many, relief can be found in significant relationships.  It takes work.  It takes a lot of work.  But over time those self-mutilating behaviors can be replaced with healthy behaviors, such as strong communication skills, that allow the individual to seek comfort and peace from healthy relationships.

If you are struggling with self-harm, please contact The Refuge Center today at: 615-771-1155.

Levenkron, S. (1998). Cutting: Understanding and overcoming self-mutilation. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

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