Why Do People Cut Themselves?

There is so much confusion around the addiction of cutting. It's hard for some people to understand why you, or someone you know, would repeatedly harm themselves on purpose.  I want to break through the confusion and help those who practice cutting as a way of life. I've heard a lot of people say, why would anyone do such a thing as purposely cause pain to their bodies? So, let's begin to uncover the reasons why so many people cut themselves.

Most People Cut to Cover an Even Deeper Emotional Pain

As I have talked with hundreds of people that self-harm, one major reason emerges over and over again: Most people cut themselves to try to cope with an even deeper emotional pain. If you or anybody you know is cutting, please understand cutting is a way of covering something much deeper and painful going on inside.

Cover Self-Hate

An anonymous blogger put it this way: I used to cut because I felt like it was the only way to feel something other than the hurt and confusion and self-hate that was driving me insane. I would cut because I hated myself so much that I wanted to tear myself to pieces.

Cover Past Trauma

Most cutters' ability to cope with life is overwhelmed by powerful emotions or extreme pressure that seem too intense to bear. Jenessa said she's been a cutter for 7 years. I was sexually abused by someone very close to me. I started cutting because I always thought that what happened was my fault. I have never gotten over it, so I used to cope with any problem I had by cutting. Taking it out on myself was so much easier than figuring out what to do emotionally.

Can't Express Emotional Pain

When these emotions aren't dealt with, tension builds up. Cutting can feel like a release of this tension. Rachel said cutting is a way for her to deal with her pain: It's an escape from reality. No matter how temporary it is it's a relief to escape all the pain.

Most cutters struggle to express their pain to others. Without the words or outlet to express their emotional pain, they give into a short cut, a destructive physical expression toward themself. Laken said cutting is her first reaction when she feels disappointment or difficulty. When I fail a test, when I get in a fight, when I am called a mean name, or when anything bad happens the first thought is to cut. It is horrible and I always fall back on it.

The physical pain has a calming effect on her more agonizing emotional pain. Cutting is the treating of one pain with another. A cutter's life is one of the choices between one kind of pain or a much greater one. Amy said: It feels good when you have physical pain to take away from your emotional pain.

Avoid Dealing with Deep Feelings

The problem with self-injury as with any addiction, is that by harming yourself you never really are able to confront your deepest feelings. Perhaps that is you. You are using cutting to try to cope with an even deeper emotional pain. It is hard to say no to something that feels so good. But in the end, cutting will fail you every time.

Don't lose hope. There are healthy ways to deal with your emotions and to stop cutting for good.  Check out these helpful resources on self-harm from TheHopeLine.

If you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm, check out TheHopeLine's free eBook.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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272 comments on “Why Do People Cut Themselves?”

  1. In 4th grade my parents divorced, I was not really phased by it. My parents would always fight. But in 6th grade it really caught on, and other stress, anger and sadness. I made a post on Snapchat that said I feel like s***, want to die, I have depression and anxiety. So my sister showed my parents and, so they knew. So my dad knows, but he still will put some of his stress on me or say that I’m supposed to be sleeping in, not taking You to school, so him saying that makes me feel bad, and that I’m making him feel like that, and he knows. So one day it was too much, and I started cutting myself without thinking. I liked the pain after it was done. So I’ve continued to do so, and I do know it’s bad. It just helps me. I’ve told my friend, so I could at least let out some of my emotions, and if I haven’t, I would not still be alive.
    But I cut myself to relive my pain, but I always say that I’m stuck in a void and want to get out, and get help. Please, help me. Yet I pretend to be happy.
    Sorry it’s long

    1. Katie, First of all, we want you to know that you are not alone. We are here to listen. If you ever want to chat online one of our HopeCoaches would love to chat with you at https://www.thehopeline.com/gethelp/ It's important that you talk to a medical professional about our depression and anxiety. Cutting yourself is a coping mechanism due to the stress, anger and sadness you are experiencing from your parent's divorce. Please know you are valuable and worthy! We are proud of you for reaching out for help with cutting. We have a partner organization, Door of Hope, that specializes in Self-Harm and has recovery coaches available. You can text with them for help. Please visit https://www.thehopeline.com/partners/door-of-hope-4-teens/ for more information about them and their number to text to talk to a recovery coach. Katie, Never ever feel bad for asking for help. We care and want the best for you.

  2. I don't get life I'm always beat up I'm always abused I want to run away but I have no one to stay at so I decided to cut myself it is a way to eases the pian that I feel and it is a way for me to control going syco over the word that i hear "divorce" I have been cutting since 3rd grade I started to forget about poeple I will always go to the nurses office my parents would just yell andscream and every night I get my sicorse and do 1 cut to ease my pian that I feel ever since after 3rd grade I gave up on my self I would always wonder how much happier people I'm always called a fraek cause I suffer form sever to modarte depression and I promissed my self no more friends cause they would always turn on me. Anyway that's it if you guys have any things that could be nice I would like that.thank j for reading hope line can you help as well please

  3. Hi guys ina tell u my story about how I started cutting it all started with a 5th grade school my parents were eager to get out when it was over I went out the worng door to get my stuff from the music room then I went to find them my dad was there but my mom wasn't we went looking for here's found her she slapped me hard enough to give me a nose bleed then when we got home my.parents started to yell about divorce then my mom stormend in my room threw me on the ground and started to phisicly abuse me and the I began cutting my self it helped me feel something besides anger and sadness it felt happy and right to me I'm still being abused and cutting what should I do anything will help please!

  4. Hi guys I read don't cuts comment and I have a story simaller kind of and....my friend is the only one who understands me I give my Self one cut a day eventually there is a new student and she is a barbie girl I go to the botbroom and she starts talking and changing once I get out they start Bering beat up my parents never notice they never cared about me I got bullied everyday I gave my self two cuts a day I am alone and trapped inside my feelings no one can hear me eventually I change schools I feel relieved then I find out it is my old school I got bullied by everyone and I got home that day and my parrents are screaming the eked divorse over and over then my mom came to my room and hit me slapped me utility I got a nose bleed then she threw me on the ground and ran out the door way yelling useless piece of sh•t I go to the bathroom and time me five big cuts and fall crying and yelling why cant I just die already I need some help I need some real friend's can you help me?

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