Question about "cutting" i.e. self mutulation.

  1. I have a very close friend who just found that thier child has been cutting himself on his arms. This child told the parent that it was he/she had no feelings about anything. I know that this parent has been very hard on this child, critical of the child, and constantly yelling at the child. Course, now that this had come out the parent has looked at the way the child has been treated and is trying very hard to correct that behavior.

    My question: what are some of the causes of this, what are the outcomes of this, and what kind of treatment do children like this get? I hope my questions are too confusing. Thanks for any info.

    Pam

    p.s. no, it really isn't me, it's a close friend of mine.
    •  
  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   jnette
    This is so sad. So terribly sad. Reading this breaks my heart.

    Long road to recovery ahead.
  4. by   z's playa
    Cutting, scraping or even burning one's body, usually the arms, is brought on by the person's inability to express deep pain. A lot of the time he/she feels that nobody understands the pain they are feeling and resort to this kind of expression hoping someone will see it and catch on to how confused and depressed they are. It's also because one does certain things that they feel they should feel bad about, but don't... so they let the pain they should be feeling out.... a different way.

    It will pass but how long is a different story. The scars will always be there.
    Last edit by z's playa on Jun 12, '04
  5. by   z's playa
    Quote from z's playa
    Cutting, scraping or even burning one's body, usually the arms, is brought on by the person's inability to express deep pain. A lot of the time he/she feels that nobody understands the pain they are feeling and resort to this kind of expression hoping someone will see it and catch on to how confused and depressed they are. It's also because one does certain things that they feel they should feel bad about, but don't so they let the pain they should be feeling out a different way.

    It will pass but how long is a different story. The scars will always be there.
    All the yelling is just what the child wants by the way. Attention but i'm thinking yelling isn't the key. You can pm me.
    I'm not a nurse yet but i know what I'm talking about concerning this issue.

    ooops. I meant to edit on the first post. Man...... am I technologically challenged or what
  6. by   jnette
    Quote from z's playa
    Cutting, scraping or even burning one's body, usually the arms, is brought on by the person's inability to express deep pain. A lot of the time he/she feels that nobody understands the pain they are feeling and resort to this kind of expression hoping someone will see it and catch on to how confused and depressed they are. It's also because one does certain things that they feel they should feel bad about, but don't so they let the pain they should be feeling out a different way.

    It will pass but how long is a different story. The scars will always be there.
    Excellent description and explanation. So very true.
  7. by   z's playa
    Quote from jnette
    Excellent description and explanation. So very true.

    Thank you. My first attempt at a medical explanation.

    Seeing as you're one of what I believe is called a seasoned nurse with mucho experience...how are cutters recieved in the ER? Besides the obvious call to psych....are they frowned upon?
  8. by   lucianne
    Here's a link to another thread about cutting:
    http://allnurses.com/forums/showthread.php?t=51911

    I think z's playa gives a good general explanation, but from what I've read and witnessed, I believe it is more complex than that. Some kids do it out of rebellion and some think it is a "goth" kind of thing to do--especially if they have witnesses and can gross people out (not that there aren't "goth" kids who do this because they are in a lot of pain). But not all people who cut want attention. Many do it because they can't cope with their inner pain any other way and the physical pain is more bearable than the emotional pain. Cutting should always be taken very seriously until a good evaluation is made.

    There are often other problem behaviors that occur along with cutting, such as shoplifting, sexual promiscuity, and drug abuse. Not all kids who cut do all or even any of these things, but it is something to be aware of.

    Your friend is making a good start with re-evaluating his or her parenting style. I hope they have made an appointment with a good adolescent psychiatrist and/or therapist. This isn't something that can be resolved alone. Most people who cut eventually quit--those that don't accidentally kill themselves--but if they aren't treated they may just use other lousy coping mechanisms instead.

    I hope your friend's son gets the help he needs.
  9. by   MrsWampthang
    I hope things will work out with this kiddo. It's a complicated situation so it will probably be a long road to finding out the whys of his behavior. I'm not sure my friend is taking this as seriously as it should be taken, but we'll see. Again thanks for all the input.


    Pam
  10. by   finness
    "Many do it because they can't cope with their inner pain any other way and the physical pain is more bearable than the emotional pain. Cutting should always be taken very seriously until a good evaluation is made."

    You said it Luci. Good luck to you, Traumama59.
  11. by   MandyInMS
    I had a friend in her teenage years who did something similar, but not to this extreme..she would literally pull her hair out..it's called trichotillomania (sp?)..she had such anxiety/depression issues that she called it a 'release'..instead of expressing her emotions she would do this..when she felt overwhelmed /anxious there was this strong need to do this, she would say afterwards that it released her tension ...maybe not as severe as cutting but self harm,causing pain to herself none the less..it was her 'secret' for a long time..she finally got on meds and got better thank heavens..but it was a long struggle. I hope this child gets the mental/emotional help he/she needs asap.
  12. by   Eviene
    Self-harm is a cathartic process done for lots of reasons, sometimes just to feel alive, to stop feeling numb, or just to feel something. The usual treatment would be to minimise the risks the child presents and to assess whether the child presents with a need for longterm therapy and whether they are able to engage in it at this point in their lives.
  13. by   finness
    If cutters merely want attention, why do so many hide it? I am not being argumentative--just curious. Also, I heard of people who cronically place pressure on their eyes. Has anyone come accross this? This has a name, but I can't remember it right now.

close