A dummies guide to self injury

adrian's picture

Well , in the past.. I have taken note .. and tried to sympathise with all you guys who are into self injury. While I do really have concerns for you lot and i do try to understand what you are going through .. it has just never hitten close to home for me.

That changed this weekend when my mother informed me that my little sister of 14 has taken up this trend. Had it not been for oasis , I would have been a whole lot more scared, confused and shocked than I was now.

What I want to know from you guys , is what information is there available on the subject, some of your personal experiences.. (such as why? .. my kneejerk response is 'seeking attention' .. but i dont want to be too simplistic about it) and especially things you wish your parents/siblings knew about this 'addiction'.

I don't judge very easily (as i hope you have realized) .. i dont look down on cutters .. and I would appreciate if this doesnt turn into a 'cutters are morons' flamewar, I am just a concerned older brother who wants to understand , help and comfort my little sister to the best of my knowledge/abilities/resources.

amy's picture

i would check out this site,

i would check out this site, it has ton of info and theres a forum on it for people who have friends and family that self injure

tigerandamy's picture

New name

I just wanted to tell everyone that almost everyone who hurts themselves hates the term self-mulitation. Can't you call it something else? I don't know why but that term just bothers me and others I know that also hurt themselves.
Kris :)

adrian's picture

yeah .. it is severe..

But i do think it has it's place, especially when speaking to the uninitiated..
When you say 'cutting' people go 'you mean like daiseys'? ..

I was unaware this even existed until i happened upon a article on Kuro5hin (awesome site.. which i will steal .. err borrow a feature or 2 from for the new oasis...)

Upon checking the article. . i think it would be judicious to rename the thread to SI (self injury).

Thank you kindly for the top.

Princess Adrian.
Lord Master Supreme of Webcode and Chairmen on the Department of Truthful Documents for The Movement To Free Ommpa loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

JB's picture

same dif

well, self mutilation si what it is, self mutilation, call it something else, it won't change the menaing, or make it any differnt.

J's picture

I think that today in the yea

I think that today in the year 2003 we have to be a little more specific when we talk about topics such as selfmutilation. There are people today that tink a ring in your nose or ear is mutilation.

JB's picture


here is a story on self mutilation that aired on canadian Tv a couple monthas ago, several links about the subject




Dragon's picture


all right.. I personally don't care what you call it, I cut, I mutilate myself, I draw blood, you get the point. They are only names. Well... it started in middle school, I had read about it in something and as my life got worse and worse I wondered if it would help... I look back now and want to smack myself, but you need to understand, when you are in that much pain, you don't think about the consequences. So, I started to cut, and as I got more and more depressed, I tried to end everything, I had nothing to hang on to, nothing to hold me back. I recovered, after coming to oasis and figuring everything out a year ago (yesterday!) well, in time figuring things out, then it hasn't made an appearance since. Until around three weeks ago... I started again. It started out with 9 slashes, now it is up to thirty or so on each arm. It is a release from the pain, whatever that pain is, it is a distraction. A way to get away... at least it was and is for me. I can sit in agony for an entire day, then, as twisted as this is, cut once or twice, and it is better (not in truth, but it seems it) for a time. I am going to see a shrink, and probably will get put on anti-depression meds, as much as I don't want them, I do, I want to be myself again. I don't know how much of this has been helpful, but everytime I write it, it takes the pain away, and, I don't know... it was a rant...

~dragon fairy~

Beryl's picture


When I found out about Dragon, and then some of my other friends cutting, I was shocked and confused, so I fell back on a tactic ingrained from years of school:
I researched.
What I found is basically, in short general terms, self-injury is a form of coping for people who didn't learn good coping skills at a young age. As has been said, the physical pain drowns out the emotional and mental for a while. Now, thats only what I've found, and its very limitted. But it has fit the cases I've seen so far.
I personally know five people that cut. Im positive I know more who just don't trust me enough to tell me. Of the five, two started recently when other people did, for attention. The worst thing about it is, I don't know what to do for that remaining horribly big number three. I love these people so much, butI don't know how to help. So anyone with words of wisdom, Im all ears.

some links I've found:


***Has a very helpfull friends and family site!!!***(http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/injury.html)


Adrien, good luck with your sister, I know how it feels when a sibling is in trouble, will be praying for all of us.


transalex's picture


well i very much agree that http://crystal.palace.net/~llama/selfinjury/ is the best web resource out there... there's even a message board for friends/family to talk to each other.

for books, i high suggest A Bright Red Scream: Self Mutiliation and the Language of Pain by Marilyn Strong. avoid anything by Steven Levenkron, i think he's full of shit, frankly. other decent books: Cut by Patricia McCormick (it's fiction), and Bodily Harm by Karen Conterio (tho this one is basically selling a psych help approach at the authors' treatment program, it still has some excellent info, just realize where they're coming from).


Kotonashi's picture

What I would have done

Alright well, i used to cut a lot. And I would probably say it was for attention. But the thing was i didnt want my mom or my family to know, it bothered me. And i didnt really like how my friends would react to it so i kinda did it in obvious places but hid it away. then i would just do it on places no one could see. MY mom found out and sent me to a hospital (Which just made me even more suicidal, so i wouldnt really suggest that). Um, I got better on my own, it kinda was a phase. Once you start it kinda becomes a comforting habit, its shitty but thats how it becomes. I dont really know what else to say, you cant contact me by email or the thing on here or whatever, if you have any specific questions.

tigerandamy's picture

Same here

When I started to cut I did it for attention but didn't realize it at that time. But someone told me later that those who seek attention in that sort of way probably need to attention to help them along but don't know any other way to get the attention they need. I also never wanted my parents to find out. I was really close to my guidance counselor and I would do it in obvious places so she would see it but then hid it at home. A big part is making someone realize what they are doing is wrong at an early stage because once it continues for years then it gets increasily hard to stop. I have been cutting for about 5 years and I have realized I need to stop and it will probably be the hardest thing I will ever do in my life.

Dragon's picture

Good Luck

I know how you feel, I haven't cut now in a month exactly this past Wednesday, and it is hard, but it feels great.

~dragon fairy~

adamse2's picture


tarni's picture

Why? I think it's partly for

Why? I think it's partly for attention, but also a lot because they simply don't know how to cope. It's a control thing, or at least that's what I found, and a bunch of people I knew. They feel like they can't control anything in their lives, butt they can control the (physical) pain they feel. Or(not mutually exclusive) they want to express their internal pain as external, because (again) they can't control thier internal pain.

I wish people would realise that... the cutting isn't the problem. The problem is what is causing them to cut. However, especially in the case of depression, it doesn't always have to be something that makes sense. It could be chemical depression, for example. I had that, and my parents wouldn't believe that I was depressed 'over nothing'. There had to be a reason. I hated that.

Let her know that you're there for her, but don't swamp her. I found that my parents clutched me close and made me feel more trapped than before.



"People who take you at face value will always be your true friends. Truth + laughter = good friendships."
--milly the fairy

hippiedyke87's picture

Sometimes (at least for me) i

Sometimes (at least for me) it is to feel something. People sometimes feel numb and pain is the only thing they feel know how to experience. It is also a release from pent up emotional pain, it gives it a source and an identifiable feeling. I must admit I don't really cut but more of biting and scratching til I bleed. Don't know if this helps, but I hope some of it is useful. Peace.

"If you think you know what I'm doing wrong well you're gonna have to get in line..." - Ani DiFranco

screv's picture



Bex Bennett's picture

As a recovering self harmer (

As a recovering self harmer (2 months free) I would say that the reason for self harm is very very rarely due to attention seeking. I started to self harm because it gave me a release. I would say that you need to give her as much support as she needs but not crowd her. Having not had anyone know about my self harm for 9 years I got very wound up in it. I found that it was a trap I couldn't escape. Most people think when they start to self injure that it is just a cut and they can keep it under control, they would be wrong. As you get further into self harm the cuts will become deeper and more serious.

It's a horrible thing to get into and I wouln't wish it on anyone.

sugarmagnolia's picture

of myself and people i've kno

of myself and people i've known, as far as i can tell, there are two groups of cutters. there are the more "emo" type, who cut themselves the night before, and then come into school the next morning and compare with all their friends. this, i believe, is purely for attention. i also know people, myself included, who cut and will lie about it, and hide it as best possible, it's more release from pain, or feeling so numb that cutting is seen as the only way to feel. i only cut on occasion, and haven't in a long time, and it was while i was still living at home and things were bad with my family. i hid it as best i could from everyone, and made up lies (i fell into a shelf...) if anyone caught me and asked.

while cutting for emotional release is not for attention, i believe that it is still way to cry out. despite lying to my best friend about the cuts on my arm, i actually found it reassuring when she didn't seem to believe me.

i don't have a great source of knowledge on this topic, other than personal experiences, it's not something i know of objective research on. i would suggest researching ways that people mght enable cutting though. my older brother has many issues (totally different situation then your sister though) but in my trying to help him, i eventually realized that i was actually enabling his self distructive habits. i don't know if the same would even apply with cutting, but just something to maybe look into. hope all turns out well.

didn't intend to be quite this long winded, hopefully it was helpful.

"freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"

dreamers imagine someday's picture

Well, the best thing you can

Well, the best thing you can do is talk with her, not at her. Some cutters do it to release some of the internalized pain they feel. Others do it, to show that they do have real pain that otherwise they wouldn't recognize. While there are some who just do it for the blood, because it can be of a comfort to them. For some, it can be a part of their OCD, like one of my compulsions is to tear my skin and hair off because it just doesn't feel right.

V is the bomb, he blows with anarchy!!!

Adam A's picture


i'm just REALLLY clumsy

wild-blue-yonder's picture

ha ha very funny.

wild-blue-yonder's picture

another reason.

I usually find myself cutting right after my mom has yelled at me about the things I do wrong and things I do that make her life hard. I feel the need to pay her back somehow, to punish myself for doing them, and cutting is the only thing that makes me feel better. I’ve noticed that just making myself hurt doesn’t make me feel any better. It’s seeing that I’ve made myself bleed, when I finally get that feeling that I’ve repaid something. It’s the only way I can feel any relief or satisfaction. It relieves me of guilt somehow. When I feel pain and see blood, I feel like I can clear my conscience. It's translating emotional pain to physical pain, which I find easier to deal with. I know it doesn’t make logical sense, but when I do it, I’m so emotionally crushed I (apparently) lose all my common sense.

I don't do this for attention. If anyone found out, it'd be hell. I'd be mortified. I never want anyone to know. Maybe other people do it for attention, but not everybody. Blah, I don't even like writing about it online. But I have this foolishly idealistic idea that maybe it will help somebody somewhere. Blah. I don't know.

Shenlong the Arcane's picture

I never cut, just put myself

I never cut, just put myself into painful physical situations and what the psych therapist told me was "emotionally cutting" myself and his idea to help wean me from it was to wear a rubber band on my wrist and snap it when I got stressed. That was along ass time ago now I'm inot drinking pure energy drinks because the caffeine and Niacin make me happy-ish. Or I just light one up.

kartovla's picture

its not an attn thing, not u

its not an attn thing, not usually, never was for me. talk to her about it, but not like youre trying to talk someone off a ledge, if she feels like you think shes crazy, she wont trust you. as for the why- i dontknow, it was like the physical manifestation of frustration and pain that i could not get out anyother way. tangible pain if that makes sense. i deal 100% with physical pain, but emotional pain freaks me out, so you make it physical andyou can deal...that was my experience at least. its all good now, my best friend sorta saved my ass while i still had arm space left. good luck with your sis.
"the opposite of war isnt peace, its CREATION!"

SOLDoutSCENE's picture

god people are conceided its never about attention

this is not about atention trust me anyone who hurts themself´s try like you have no idea to hide it its emberrasing. there are many reaso´s why people do it its mostly an outle, when words no longer seem to bring that relief

peace and equality

corcra-carraig's picture

I have been SI since as long

I have been SI since as long as I can remember. Even when I was a pre-schooler, my family said I would punish myself by giving myself time outs. My earliest recollection is at 9 when I broke a toe by smashing it with a hammer. I started cutting at 11, and have not done it since I was 14. I usually burn or bruise myself. No one offline knows I do this.
It is defiantly not an attention seeking thing, but a way for me to express hurt, anger, and sadness since I can't cry (unless I'm laughing).

I would recommend www.recoveryourlife.com, it has helped me a bit, and it's a great informational site.

Best of luck with your sister.

the ghost's picture


I haven't cut myself since I was 14,i'm 21 now. I'm not really sure the exact reason I started. But I remember doing it for the first time and it sort of let me escape from my problems for a while. I was having a tough time at school, and with my parents. I gradually started doing it more and more often if I had had a bad day, and when I would do it,I just got such a rush, like it put me on a total high and I felt in control of somthing in my life.
But after a while when I would look at my ever increasing amount of scars, I started to just feel ashamed, and it lost its kick.I eventually managed to stop.It was hard and somtimes when things would be bad for me I would get the urge to do it.
Well I hope that helps you help your sister.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent-Eleanor Roosevelt

The Engine Driver@drupal.org's picture

Well, I don't cut...but I put

Well, I don't cut...but I put cigarettes out on my arm. It's not an attention thing for me...I only do it rarely, and it's because sometimes I just need to feel something. I get so uncomfortably numb that any feeling is better than nothing...so I've grown accustomed to, every once in a while, extinguishing my filtered Camel on my left forearm...

Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas

alya's picture


I do it when I feel like I have two many emtions they need to escape, It's like if you filed a pitcher over the brim the liqued must escape one way, I recently got up the courage to tell my mom that I felt as though I needed to be evaluated, I found out that I have Major anxiety and I just recently got on meds and Feel a lot better, I was REALLY fucked up for awhile there, some days I didn't know where I found the strenght to live, I didn't know how I was alive, while I'm not trying to say that she was as fucked up as me or that she has panick attacks, I would highly suggest trying to get evaluated she might have something. While you might read this and think, is'nt it pretty obvious if you were feeling that shitty that you had major anxity, well if thats all you know it can be VERY confuseing. Well....I hope I helped

PokemonGeek's picture

I used tweezers to pull out

I used tweezers to pull out hair from my legs for about a year and a half and until I admitted to doing it, thought it was no big deal and that I wasn't hurting myself.

Poor is the man
Whose pleasures depend
On the permission of another
Love me, that's right, love me
I wanna be your baby
Wanting, needing, waiting
For you to justify my love
Hoping, praying
For you to justify my love
I'm open and ready

Uncertain's picture

My experience...

Seeing that there are already so many people posting I don't really know anything else I can add. Blah.

Well, I used to cut myself. It wasn't for attention (although there are some that do do it for the attention, and they immensely annoy me). It was a way of coping. You know when sometimes emotionally you are so angry, like so so angry you don't even think? Or frustration so great that you can start pulling your hair? I guess it's kind of like that. It's when emotions take control of me, and I cut myself because I'm disappointed and/or angry at myself. I feel better at that moment, but trust me when the emotions wear off... I feel worse about what I've done. I usually take a shower after that... and then try and hide the marks. I've stopped cutting for months now... and I would never go back into that cycle. It's addictive, once you use it as a way of coping, you depend on it more... and it isn't a healthy way of coping AT ALL.

Some of my friends cut themselves. Some were like me, but some do it for the attention. The ones that were like me are so ashamed of themselves for doing it. They didn't want anyone to know, except the few people they trust. Despite my own experience, I can't help them get out of the cycle. You have to make a REAL effort to stop, and it's going to take a while, step by step and so on. In fact, they were so dependant on cutting in the end they didn't even feel they needed to stop. That's the sad thing about it. They have engulfed themselves in an artifical misery but blindly thought it was protecting them. They accepted their depression and their way of coping, and somehow liked being in it, when sadly they can do so much more when they are out of it. They can become so depressing they keep apologising for whatever they do (which gets annoying), they become boring, they're a depressing influence and they're a massive burden on everyone else. Then they feel bad about all that, then start cutting again. It's just a vicious cycle. It can be really destructive.

And for the ones that do it for the attention.. I had a good friend that started cutting. She also started throwing up all the time. She doesn't think she's fat or anything... but she just does it. The thing is she likes tell everyone. She shows people her scars and it really pisses me off. Like it really fucking does. When she flaunts self injury like that it just annoys me greatly. She doesn't really have any real problems, and she won't listen to anybody's advice. She just tries to exaggerate her problems and attribute her self-injury to them. We try to get her to stop, but she won't even listen to a little bit of it. In the end, she became a depressing influence on everyone else... and she became dull and lifeless. She needs to make an effort to stop... instead of just saying "No" and being negative about everything. I may sound like a hypocrite, but in the end, if cutting and depression dominates a person for too long, even their closest friends will get tired of them. They need to know healthy ways to motivate and cheer themselves up.

It annoys me when people like to tell the world about how many cuts they made, how deep, with what, and so on so on. Then show the world their magnificent 'masterpiece'. Some people do exactly that after they self-injure. Now that I've stopped self-injuring myself I still won't go into how I self-injured myself. It's rather irrelevant, and can trigger someone else to self-injure or add to their 'ideas'.

I don't really know the exact causes, even for my self. Like I said it's just a way of coping. It can start from something traumatic or rather big... but once it becomes a habit even the small things will trigger the temptation to cut. The thing is, don't blame your sister for self injuring herself. Try to understand first, be open about it - but also be sensitive about what she is comfortable talking about. Try and dig into why she's cutting and make her realise she should and can stop. One of the main things about cutting is the sudden emotional takeover and temptation... it's hardly a real coherent conscious choice (oh yus, alliteration). So what I found useful was distracting myself when I knew I was getting into certain moods that might trigger self injury. Distractions include reading, eating (although girls I don't know), writing and so on. Socialising also helps A LOT. Socialising is a way to keep the mind off negative thoughts. Don't try to bring your problems up to every person when you socialise - just distract yourself. Some people remain by themselves when negative thoughts take over which can be helpful - but it can also add to the feeling of isolation and loneliness.

Once the episode is over... THEN I will be able to contemplate clearly about what had happened... and THEN I can take better actions. Sometimes it's not good to think too deeply about the problem/issue while being in a depressive episode... because it will add to the cycle of worry or sadness, and that emotion will build onto each other and go to the extreme. During that, the mind is so rigid and will only focus itself on negative things, so reflecting is also not a good idea. It's best to become self-aware of your own emotions, understand the trigger behind it, distract yourself from it then contemplate about it when the mind is clear.

Self-injury is not nice like I said. It takes a lot of effort to be stopped. It's not something to be proud of, but it's only right to seek help - as long as you really want it. It leaves ugly scars, and it can become destructive and destroy lives, friendships and grades etc. To stop... take it step by step, because when you take care of the small things... the big things will follow. And in the end no one can make someone stop self-injuring unless they themselves really want to. It's also important to become self-aware of your thoughts, emotions and actions.

Not everyone will always be able to be there for you. So remember, perhaps the most crucial thing is: know, control and take care of yourself because only you are the only constant in your life.

LOL, so much for not knowing what else to add... blah. Hope that was helpful.

my three wheeler rox's picture



I speak fluent redneck

Prince HighAndMighty Of The Island Of Dreams,
Green Sarong Tribe

hellonwheels's picture

there's tons of info on it...

just do an online search and there will be lots of links...also look up things like teen depression and teen issues, and that will probably come up w/ a lot of info.
as far as personal experiece goes, I tried to cut a few times, but was too damn scared to actually cut a vein...and a friend of mine's best friend accidentally died from cutting up the veins, not across. so yeah, it is a huge issue. good luck w/ ur sister adrian.
Mental wounds not healing, driving me insane, i'm goin' off the rails on a crazy train- the ozzman

utter_insanity's picture


Recently I've realized that I suffer from some form of depression, and after reading some of the articles people posted on this forum, I can see now that I've engaged in a form of SI in the past without realizing it.

See, a lot of the time in the past I've felt weirdly numb, like the world outside of my head isn't real. It's strange. It was like I was walking inside a dream. I can't really explain it better than that. I just didn't feel...real. I felt numb.

I never really wrote about it here on Oasismag, because whenever I felt numb, I didn't feel like blogging or writing. I just wanted to surf the Net and try to forget the bad feelings I was having. I tried to escape what I was feeling by watching a funny movie or reading one of my favorite books, but it didn't work. That numbness just stayed there, humming in the background, and even when I laughed at something funny I had just heard, read, or seen, like a joke my friends had told me, or a funny part in a book or movie, it didn't go away. I barely felt anything.

It was easy to fool my family and friends and make them think I was alright. It was like my body was some sort of dog that would do whatever I told it. "Smile, girl! Smile for your mom; she just told you a funny story! Laugh it up, girl! Goooood girl. That's it. Good job fooling them." I pretty much just accepted it, the numbness, I mean. I barely even noticed it. I guess I thought it was natural. Well, no. That's the wrong way to put it. I didn't really think about it at all. It was a part of me. To me, it was just a part of my life.

I didn't feel numb all the time. The feeling came and it went. I would be able to feel all of my emotions for a few hours, and then I would feel the numbness creep up on me again. It would stay for a while, and then it would leave. I was used to it, and just wrote it off as mood swings.

I'd scratch my nails across my skin sometimes. I'd dig my nails into my skin, and I'd feel pain. And it was bad and good at the same time, because it hurt a lot, but it made me feel something for once, and I loved that.

But lately, it started to get really bad. When I went on a trip to Oregon and took a plane, I got the numb feeling again. I also got this weird feeling in my ears, the kind you get whenever you're high up in the air, like on a mountain, and your ears feel blocked up, like they need to pop. It was eerie, not only having a feeling of numbness surrounding me, but also not being able to hear that well. I felt completely detached from the outside world. It was like I really was walking in a dream. I was flying with my lesbian grandmothers, and I tried telling them that something was wrong. "I feel...numb," I told them. When I explained what I was feeling, they waved it away. They told me that the weird feeling in my ears was just because I was so high up in the plane, and that the numbness was just a result of stress. I wanted to believe them on both counts, but it still felt like something was completely wrong.

The numbness vanished later that day, but it began again the next day, and the next, and the next. The last day, I just snapped. I knew something was wrong with me then. There was no use denying it. I wasn't stressed, I was depressed. I knew that it couldn't be natural to feel this numb half the time, and that I needed some goddamn help, and that I needed it now.

I talked to my grandmothers about it. I asked them if we could go to a grocery store and get me some antidepressants, but they told me I couldn't get any without a prescription, and besides, why was I asking for antidepressants anyway? I did my best to explain, and they were open-minded about the whole thing. But the fact remained, I couldn't get anti-depressants without a prescription.

Then I remembered something my mom had told me about these herbal pills she had got me once. The stuff's called "St. John's Wort" and it's supposedly a "mood balancer." When she gave me the pills, I took the capsules for a couple of weeks, and they did seem to make me feel peppier. After they ran out, though, I told my mom I didn't need her to get me any more. I was perfectly willing to go back to my depressed state. It was all I knew, and I thought it was perfectly normal. As awful as it was being depressed like I was, it was strange feeling...happy for once. I was used to feeling like crap all the time. Like I said, I thought it was perfectly normal. It was familiar, and weirdly comfortable. It was like that Pink Floyd song, "Comfortably Numb." Because that's what I was, you see. Comfortably numb.

But anyways, I told my grandmothers about St. John's Wort, and how it had worked for me before. Best of all, I didn't need a prescription to buy it. They drove me to the grocery store as soon as they could, and lucky me, they had St. John's Wort there. I grabbed it, and right after it had been paid for, I gulped down one of the pills inside there with a glass of water.

I've been taking one St. John's Wort capsule every day, and it works. I can really FEEL now. Instead of that stupid numbness, I can feel my full range of emotions at any time. It's great! I just read Douglas Adams' humor novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and I laughed, really laughed. I must have giggled a thousand times while I was reading that. It was effing hilarious, and I mean that now. If I had read it a month ago, or even a couple of weeks ago, I probably wouldn't have laughed as much as I did then.

Basically, I just tried to hurt myself in order to deal with my depression. Compared to a lot of cases, my self-injury wasn't even that serious. But I'm glad it wasn't, if you know what I mean. I am completely thankful for the fact that I'm most likely not going to be cutting myself in the future because of my depression and/or something else that I have no idea how to deal with. Thank goodness for my meds!

If anyone else is feeling depressed for any reason, I recommend St. John's Wort. It's cheap and can be found in your local grocery store in the over-the-counter medicine section, along with a bunch of other herbal stuff. I don't know if it'll work for everyone the way it does for me, but hey, it's worth a try. Good luck with your sister, Adrian!

"Women in rubber will ALWAYS be flirting with me!" --Maureen in the musical RENT