A Safe Place for Cutters Blog


Isolation the Third Mortal Enemy of a Cutter
March 28, 2009, 22:32
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Individuals with self-harm behavior usually have painful backgrounds that include physical abuse emotional and/or sexual abuse. Growing up in an environment in which your original caretakers could not be trusted makes it very difficult to trust anyone later in your life. This of course causes one to turn inward for comfort and solace and this often includes self-harm behaviors such as cutting.*

Trust vs. mistrust is first of the eight developmental stages of Erik Erickson. If we pass successfully through this period of life, we will learn to trust that life is basically okay and have basic confidence in the future. If we fail to experience trust and are constantly frustrated because our needs are not met, we may end up with a deep-seated feeling of worthlessness and a mistrust of the world in general.

Such mistrust results in what one young woman described as having “all these walls around me, and I don’t want to have someone close to me. I keep this distance with everyone, and even if I wanted to break free, I don’t know who to choose to trust.” This results in feeling like an “outcast” a common descriptor cutters use to depict themselves.

Although cutting can initially feel like a safe place to go to for solace, it has the destructive consequence of distancing oneself from others even further. One cutter stated, “I had cut a “R” into my hand. I felt like a reject and no one around me ever liked me. I’ve been a really quiet person for a long time now, never able to trust people around me. My friends saw my “R” and the one hit me a few times with a book and the others just made me feel more rejected’.

Another danger with isolation is that it cuts one off from valuable resources, namely people.  Interacting with others enables us to see solutions to problems. When we shut ourselves off from others we only have our own counsel and that can lead to disaster.

“One who isolates himself pursues selfish desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1

What helps is to interact with safe non-judgmental people. This is where having a good therapist is important. That is why I created my private group on Facebook in order to allow cutters to have opportunities to validating experiences. (If you are interested in joining my group please find me on Facebook).

* Since the majority of people that I work with are cutters, I use that term exclusively when referring to self-harm behavior although most of the information applies to all self-harm behavior that mainly includes (but not limited to) eating disorders, swallowing and burning with cigarettes in addition to cutting.

To a life worth living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend.  Click here!

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