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Cutting Disorders Essay

1919 words - 8 pages

“Cutting Disorders: A Silent Cry for Help”

Teens and young adults resort to various outlets with hopes of coping with the pressures they face. Some stress-relieving activities involve eating comforting food or watching TV. For some, however, these activities do not provide adequate stress relief, so they attempt to escape their anxieties through a recently recognized self-mutilating disorder called “cutting.” While gaining more attention in recent years, cutting is still not a well-known practice, yet an estimated 700 out of every 100,000 individuals self-mutilate (Froeschle). Even celebrities like Angelina Jolie have admitted to cutting (Mann). The best way to discourage the practice of cutting is to learn more about the disorder and encourage those who cut to find less destructive ways of coping with stress. Sadly, most people have never heard of the disorder and so do not recognize the warning signs of the practice. I was ignorant of both the disorder and the warning signs until the reality of the dangers involved hit home: I discovered my cousin was cutting. With my cousin in mind, I have noticed that the University of Georgia does not offer any specific resources for cutters. Through my cousin’s struggles, I have developed an acute awareness of cutting, who it involves, and what can be done to help its victims. My cousin’s story relates to so many American teens today. Everyone needs to be aware of how to help those with cutting disorders in their homes, campuses, and careers.

Now that I reflect on the living situation my cousin Annie [1] faced several years ago, her battle with cutting no longer shocks me. While I thought at first that anyone who would harm himself or herself in such a way was mentally disturbed, I now realize people who cut do not know how to handle their emotions. My aunt Jill had recently finalized a nasty divorce and discovered that her ex-husband, Annie’s father, had verbally and physically abused Annie. During this traumatic period, Jill grew suspicious of Annie, who was becoming overly private about her body. While cleaning Annie’s room, Jill found the book Cut by Patricia McCormick; shocked, she began reading the first paragraph. Since minimal literature is available on cutting disorders, Jill’s discovery in her daughter’s room naturally took her by complete surprise. Although Jill had never heard of a behavior where people cut themselves to liberate their feelings, after reading Cut, she began to notice cuts on Annie’s arm. According to psychotherapist Steven Levenkron, “The first cut is a result of a larger insult or catastrophe, and the second takes less provocation. The third takes even less, and the next thing you know, you are cutting” (quoted in Mann). The obvious catastrophe in Annie’s life was the abuse and divorce; Jill felt that her divorce instigated Annie’s destructive behavior. Over time, Jill discovered many other underlying causes that contributed to Annie’s desire...

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