Why People Cut Themselves 2

by Dr. George Crabb on April 8, 2010 · 1 comment

Thank you for returning so that we may explore more deeply the reason behind self harm behavior. The primary reason people self-injure is to relieve emotional pain. It is an extreme, unhealthy, and ungodly coping mechanism that some people use to get through times of stress, anxiety, conflict, disappointment, failure, or heartache. Many self-injurers have never developed the ability to feel or express emotions in a healthy way. Self-injury provides relief, albeit temporary, from the pressures of pinned-up feelings. The young girl in my office told me, “I felt my emotional pain drain away with my blood. It is as though punching a hole in my skin deflated this balloon of intense, overwhelming feelings. The air of pain came out slowly, and the release only lasted for a short time, but it gave me a much-needed release,” This sense of release and euphoria comes from the same mechanism that cocaine and other drugs produce in the body. This is a temporary surge of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Some self-injurers, because of past events like abuse, are punishing themselves or expressing self-hatred. They don’t want to die; they just want to blame, criticize, or punish themselves. This is not only true for those who have been abused sexually but also physically and emotionally. They replay imaginary video tapes of messages they heard from their abusers in their minds over and over again. Some of these statements they hear in their minds are:
-you are worthless
-it is your fault
-you deserve to be punished
-you are bad
-you have to pay
In self-injurers’ minds, cutting themselves serve two purposes: (1) It punishes them with pain, and (2) It allows some of their “badness” to seep out with their blood. It is a way for them to make up for their “badness.”
Self-injury can bring out a host of emotions, especially from people who do not understand the condition. These emotions can include:
-shock
-revulsion
-anger
-fear
-disgust
-shame
-condemnation
Self-injurers have already felt these things about themselves, especially shame. Shame is what makes self-injurers wear long sleeves in the summer. They cover their scars and hide their injuries so nobody will know what they are doing. Shame is an incredibly strong, self-condemning emotion that keeps individuals feeling badly about themselves and trapped in a cycle of self-destruction.

Self- injury is just as addictive as drugs, pornography, or tobacco. Remember, no one can make self-injurers stop hurting themselves. This is a choice that they can only make for themselves. However, it is a choice that they may need support to reach.

No matter how long an individual has struggled with self-injurious behavior there is a definitive answer to their inward pain. The answer is a dynamic, intimate, love relationship with the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Truth. Jesus truly understands the pain they are feeling and He longs to alleviate that pain and in its place give a peace that passeth all understanding. The Reformers Unanimous curriculum will introduce these individuals to Jesus and teach them how to have a daily, dynamic walk with Him.

The young girl I spoke of at the beginning of this article did join a local chapter of Reformers Unanimous, along with her mother, and they both developed a healthy walk with Jesus Christ. Presently they are still daily walking with God and they continue to be faithful to their RU chapter and the local church that hosts the chapter. The young girl told me recently (via a text) that she has been free of self-injury for 37 months – Praise God!
Please remember that self-injury behaviors are silent cries for help. And my friend we at RU can help!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

JEANINE C July 11, 2010 at 7:55 pm

I do not cut on my self, but I have told myself what I used to be told as a child; “you are a failure, you'll never amount to nothing etc…” I still feel worthless and I am disqualified to do certain things for God because I am a worse sinner than most are. I have been freed of addictions and drugs almost 5 years now, but I still feel horribly inferior and I have been told I have a thinking problem. Do you have any suggestions?

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