What causes self cutting?
A coping mechanism is a great answer. I can tell you more about the "coping mechanism". That is such a broad term left open for all kinds of interpretations. I am talking from self-experience.
The answers you have received thus far are good ones, but there is more to it than just being unhappy or coping. There is a terrible turmoil going on inside. It feels like at any moment you will explode. You are unable to express what your feeling in words. If you don't find an outlet, you think you will die. You NEED for people to see you. You crave for understanding, yet no one ever really sees you and people never understand. You hold intense pain inside and it tears you apart. Maybe you tried drinking it away, or even talking to someone. When the drunk wears off, the pain is still eating at you. And when you talked to someone, they just laughed and said something insensitive like, "Chill out, have some fun. It's no big deal.".
So you are chopping vegetable one night and you accidentally cut your finger. You immediately put your finger in your mouth or rush to get a band aid. In that moment you don't realize that is doesn't hurt. This is going on in your sub conscious mind. Instinct to is take control of the situation. Stop the bleeding. Clean up the mess. After a few moments, things have calmed and you realize you assumed control of a situation. You actually had control over something. It becomes clear, you can control this. You can control the depth of a cut, the length, the amount you bleed, the mess, all of it. It is comforting. If you express the despair inside you are feeling on the outside, maybe somehow, you can feel better. This is how it becomes a coping mechanism. To others what seems crazy and weird, to you, it is symbolic of what you are feeling on the inside. Now you think maybe people will truly see you and understand. You soon find out they don't. They think you are sick and weird. This only makes it worse. This is why people cut. They are not sick or crazy. They do need help to find other outlets to safely express themselves. When your life feels completely out of control, you will do just about anything to find and maintain any type of control and no matter how twisted it seems, it helps the individual feel somewhat sane even if they know it is harmful and wrong. Most true cutters accidentally discover the comfort achieved from a cut.
Those individuals who claim to be "emo" and cutting is a part of that, are only followers and have no idea the true pain a cutter feels. I am not talking about external pain. Cutting is not cool or trend.
In essence, cutting or self harm can be a coping mechanism, albeit a negative coping mechanism. People have a number of reasons for cutting or self harm, the key is to identify stressors/issues and develop positive and effective coping skills. The actual process of cutting involves a complicated neuro/cog aspect in which endorphins are released in the brain and causes a temporary "good, safe" feeling, please note that I place emphasis on 'temporary'. Self harm is not a safe or effective coping skill in dealing with stress or trauma and those issues really need to be addressed in psychotherapy or with a mental health professional. Aside from the psychological and physical scars left on the body, self harm can cause a number of other complications which can lead to sepsis or necrotic tissue development--both of which can be fatal. Best wishes to you. -S
Dear moh, Self abuse usually starts for one reason and continues for another. When a person is unable to find a way to cope with a (situation) they turn to something that will make them forget for a short time. LIke the person who drinks to get numb or the person who takes drugs to get lost in their own world. It begins as a dysfunctional way to deal with things then even when the problem has resolved and dealt with it can continue out of habit like alcohol or drugs; it is now an addiction. Most who try cutting because they hear other do it do not find relief with it. It is a dysfunctional method of coping and we can usually find other coping method that work. Sue...good luck
I'm a harmer and have been for some time now. I can't really pin point what causes me to cut but I know that after cutting I feel alive and real. Sometimes I feel as if the emotional pain that I can't show eases when I inflict physical pain on myself. I actually have to say enjoy the experience. However I am NOT encouraging SH in any way. Some people believe its because your seeking attention or something, but how can that be true, when most harmers keep it a secret all their lives?! You can't really understand it, unless you've experienced it. I don't really understand it myself.
Stress and low self esteem.