Psych Central

Self Harm Temptations & Confusion

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW


Ok…so, I have had problems with self harm (cutting) for the past few years but have been clean for about 4 months now, which doesn’t seem like very long, at all. The triggers and urges have been really strong for the past few weeks and it has gotten to a point where I can remember how it use to feel, look, and everything about how it used to be. I have had a couple sort of ‘outer body’ type of experiences where I can picture myself sitting on the side of my bed cutting. I just really want to understand more of why I am feeling thins way and why. I asked my psych. teacher but he didn’t really give me what I was looking for, plus we got off on a tangent. I’d really appreciate it if you could help me out, thanks.

A. Answering the “why” question can be difficult because each individual may engage in self-harm behavior for their own personal reasons. Generally, there are several reasons why individuals engage in self-harm. One reason may be that an individual feels as though they “deserve” to suffer. An individual who feels that way may fundamentally believe that they are unlovable or undeserving of love. They may also believe that they should be punished for a perceived wrongdoing.

Individuals often engage in cutting behavior when they do not know how to handle their strong, negative emotions. Some individuals who cut report that the only time they feel emotional relief (although temporary) is when they cut. Others do it because they feel emotionally numb. For them, cutting provides emotional stimulation. Physical pain interrupts the emotional numbness. Thus, they can feel something even if it’s pain.

Cutting is a sign that something is wrong and that someone is suffering. It can provide temporary relief but it’s always dangerous and ineffective.

At this point, you are not cutting but are feeling the urge to do so. The time to receive help is when you feel the urge to engage in dangerous behavior. I would strongly advise that you speak to your parents about seeing a therapist. A therapist could assist you in the development of alternative and healthy methods of dealing with emotional pain. There are many effective strategies in dealing with emotional pain, difficult feelings, and so forth but cutting is not among them. This is the prime opportunity to receive preventative help. Please consider my recommendation and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 Jan 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Self Harm Temptations & Confusion. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/01/07/self-harm-temptations-confusion/

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