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I Feel Paralyzing Panic When Anything about Cutting Is Involved

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This issue never plagued me until midway through high school. I have never cut or tried to harm myself in any way. In middle school, I had a friend who battled depression and would cut herself. However, the issue finally started one day when I found a video that talked about a fan of a band who was so crazy for them that she had cut one of the band member’s name into her arm. It didn’t affect me as much at first, and only left me thinking about why anybody would do such a thing. When the video showed the photo of the cut arm, that’s when it hit.

I felt some sort of panic I had never felt before. Normally, I would feel anxious when I find something that gives me discomfort, but this was different. My body froze, and I couldn’t do anything but stare at the screen while my mind raced and screamed at me throw my phone against the wall. My heart beat so fast and felt like it was in my mouth. I wanted to cry terribly. To me, it seemed that I felt pure fear, and that it lasted for a minute or two, even once the picture of the arm was gone.

After that experience, I wasn’t able to stand the subject of cutting anymore. The word itself just makes me feel downright uncomfortable, very much so that it even took me a long time until I decided to consult someone about this. When I start to visualize any forms of cuts on hands or wrists, or when I see an actual photo of anything regarding cutting, my heart begins to race, and I try to get image out of my mind or close the photo as fast as I can, in fear that I would feel that paralyzing panic again. Strangely, though, I’m okay with violent movies – just nothing about cutting on arms.

For a while, I thought that it might be related to my friend cutting back in middle school, but I would be too afraid to speak of this with anybody to even ask. But now, I feel it would give me comfort if I found that something was wrong with me because of this, if there was anything wrong with me at all. I haven’t heard of anybody having this situation either. What do I do?

I Feel Paralyzing Panic When Anything about Cutting Is Involved

Answered by on -


You may be describing a phobia. For unclear reasons, you had a strong emotional reaction to that photo. As a response, you began actively avoiding similar photos. Your active avoidance of these photos has strengthened your fear. Continued avoidance will likely increase rather than decrease your fear.

Generally speaking, researchers have a limited understanding as to why people develop phobias. The good news is that treatment for phobias is highly effective. Phobias can be treated successfully even when you do not know their origin.

I would recommend consulting a mental health professional who specializes in phobias and anxiety. They could help you extinguish your fear. One of the best types of treatments for phobias is exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. Many studies have shown that exposure therapy cures phobias. Discuss this issue with your parents and ask them to help you find the best treatment. Thanks for writing and good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Feel Paralyzing Panic When Anything about Cutting Is Involved

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). I Feel Paralyzing Panic When Anything about Cutting Is Involved. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 6, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 29 Mar 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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