View Full Version : Can anyone tell me more about cutting? (self mutilation)

07-23-2007, 05:35 AM
Hello. In my WIP, the MC starts cutting soon after a traumatic experience. Now I know it's a whole depression-endorphin thing. And I know cutters usually hide what they are doing. And I've listened to Breaking the Habit by Linkin Park a million times. But, I have no idea what is going inside someone's head while they are doing this. (aside from Linkin Park's insights)

What does someone think when they first pick up the knife? While cutting? Do they cut fast or slow or is it a personal preference? What do they think immediately after? Later on?

If you are more comfortable sending me a PM, plz do so. Thank you.


07-23-2007, 06:04 AM
Go read "Sharp Objects" by Gillian Flynn. Excellent book, MC is a cutter.

07-23-2007, 09:00 PM
The purpose is to feel anything other than what you are feeling right then. I tended to go slow. It's probably different for everyone, and there are varying degrees of severity. There are some kids who really carve themselves up, others who just scratch the skin's surface. Sometimes, words are carved into the skin. (Failure, suck, fuck you, hate, all the usual suspects.)

It also is a sense of control. When everything else feels like it's spun out, this is something I know is up to me. I control the pain, the depth of the cut, the length, the location. So even when Situation X, Y, and Z are out of my hands, here is something that is up to me.

If focuses the mind. Sort of a tunnel vision. You don't see or hear much else when you're doing it. There's also a fascination factor. (I assume that's the endorphins you mentioned.)

This isn't to say it's universal, just my experience.

Another excellent book is "Cut" by Patricia McCormick.

07-24-2007, 02:45 AM
A cutter I knew mentioned once that she had the bad habit of focusing all possible blame back on herself. She told me about the struggle to understand that it's really, genuinely all right to be angry, even at silly things sometimes. For her, I suspect, it had a lot to do with pent-up emotion. But she was a very private person in many ways, so we never talked that much about it.


07-24-2007, 03:16 AM
Another good book to read is "bloodletting"

Cutting is very complicated and often linked to other problems such as anorexia. Another suggestion is to google self-harm. There are some great websites that explain cutting

The depression/endorphin is an over simplification and not really correct. Some people do it as a way of asserting control over their environment, some to release tension and stress, others because they feel numb and need a way to experience an emotion.

07-24-2007, 07:23 AM
Thanks everyone, those details help. I'm gonna go work on this right now!

Marina Snow
07-26-2007, 02:44 AM
Now I know it's a whole depression-endorphin thing. And I know cutters usually hide what they are doing....... But, I have no idea what is going inside someone's head while they are doing this.

No one can label self-mutilation as "a depression-endorphin thing." Self-cutting is different for each person who does it, but people cut because something is tormenting them inside. Self-abuse is strongly related to child sexual abuse. Those who were not abused might cut themselves out of any number of deep emotional wounds, usually from childhood.

People who have been sexually abused might cut to release emotions they cannot do so verbally. They might do it to feel physical pain, instead of emotional pain, or they might do it for self-punishment. There are umpteen reasons for the origin of the cutting, and for why each person cuts themselves. No one can crawl inside the mind of someone else, and no one can label others with this or that. People who self-injure need deep psychoanalysis with a reputable therapist to find out why they are doing it, and the answer should come from inside the client, not what a therapist says their problem is.

And by the way, depression is anger turned inwards on the self.

Good luck.

07-26-2007, 07:12 PM
I'd recommend Women Who Hurt Themselves by Dusty Miller. A very interesting and informative book. It includes case studies of different women who harm/harmed themselves for various reasons.

07-26-2007, 07:40 PM
When I started, I had the knife in my hand already, cutting veggies. I was thinking of suicide but knew I couldn't due to responsibilities. The slash was relief, or release. Fortunately, it also scared me, later, because it did make me feel better. (I was also a victim of childhood sexual abuse.)

Despite the scare, I found myself doing it again. The main problem was that I didn't really want to commit suicide, but the temptation was there. Finally, I settled for slapping myself in the face. Also not good, but less destructive, and easier to bring down to a lower level (less hard a slap). You might say I weaned myself away.

This sounds so stupid, writing it out. As I mentioned in another thread (the therapy one), I didn't get counseling. What I did do is become a Christian, and no, I'm not going to say that solved all my problems. (We're never promised that for this world.) What helped was working really hard at forgiving the SOB. Obviously, I'm not entirely there, but the focus did help me realize it wasn't my fault.

Marina Snow
07-26-2007, 11:52 PM
What I did do is become a Christian, and no, I'm not going to say that solved all my problems. (We're never promised that for this world.) What helped was working really hard at forgiving the SOB. Obviously, I'm not entirely there, but the focus did help me realize it wasn't my fault.

Hi Barb. Conscious forgiveness is a Blessing and something all humans need to accomplish, but the problem is the subconscious mind. A person can consciously say they forgive and truly mean it, but the subconscious mind does not forgive so easily. This is where the injured child lives, and until she has had her say, expressed her pain, and overcome having been a victim --she will continue to disrupt the life of the person with things like cutting, psychological disturbances, emotional problems, relationship problems, physical symptoms, etc.

07-27-2007, 07:36 PM
Marina - Thanks; I know. It was many years ago, and I think my unexpected spurt of anger wasn't at the person, but at the organization I mention in the "therapy" thread - which I had answered before this, and so that remembered bitternes was writhing in my subconcious. With me, recognizing it wasn't my fault was the keynote.

07-28-2007, 12:52 AM
People cut for various reasons, but 'cutting' is generally used to refer to those who experience a release when the cut and become very calm and dissociated when they do it.

07-28-2007, 07:18 AM
Hi there,

When I went through periods of cutting and struggling with it, it was generally a way to express pain. I was in a lot of emotional pain, and it was a way to make the pain visible. It was an undeniable sign that something was wrong, when I couldn't express that any other way. For me, the pain was related to childhood sexual and other abuse. It seems to be common for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. I'm not sure about the statistics, but I think cutting mostly is done or begun by adolescent girls. I am a woman and I started cutting myself when I was 14.

Sometimes for me, it was an expression of suicidal feelings. In fact, at times it was a safety valve. When I had overwhelming suicidal feelings, sometimes I would cut myself a little bit, to vent the self-destructive feelings without going so far as to kill myself. Later, I was able to avoid cutting myself, by drawing on my arm where I had the urge to cut myself - again, making the pain visible.

Hope this helps.

Mary C.

07-29-2007, 09:54 AM
I find it interesting that most cutters are teenagers. I started when I was 43. I had just decided I was probably an alcoholic and quit drinking. I had no trouble quitting, but dealing with the emotions that I was masking with alcohol was another story. I remember the urge to cut started immediately after I quit--within a day or two. At first the only thing that kept me away from cutting, was my kids were home and usually had friends over as well. The urge was persist and quite a mystery. I had no idea where it was coming from. I was honest with my husband and told him what I was going through. Finally one day I got ahold of a razor and cut. It was so sweet. Much better than I had even imagined it would be, almost sexual.
The next day my husband and I were cooking together and he noticed the cut. The shit hit the fan. He went with me the next day to the counselor's office where we had an emergency meeting. It seemed like a lot of fuss over nothing to me. I hadn't cut deep or anything. For the next couple of months I tried to stay away from being home alone. I went to AA meetings. Sometimes, I had to literally sit on my hands. I also called my husband at work once in a while, for him to talk me off the ceiling. I rarely had the urge to drink and am now three years sober. What a weird time it was. I had a terrible time at home during adolescence, so my theory is that the extreme stress made me regress to adolenscent behavior.

07-29-2007, 06:13 PM
Thank you again everyone. This is helping me think about my MC more.


Ageless Stranger
07-29-2007, 06:24 PM
When ever I did it, right after the cutting I felt a huge burst of emotion and a surge of energy. One moment I was in depressive mode, then after I'd done the deed, I was dancing around like a nut. It is, in someway, about the release of emotion.

It's different for everyone I suppose.