Our Cutting and Self-Injury hand-out for parents is now available at the Douglas Cowan website at http://douglascowan.me. This Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, or NSSI, is seen most commonly among teenagers and young adults. 15% to 25% of adolescents and young adults have self-injured. 6% to 8% do so chronically. It is most commonly seen in females. Attempts to regulate emotions, often Anger, Guilt, Shame, Self-Loathing, Fear of Abandonment, Fear of Rejection. Some report “emotional numbness.” Deliberate self-harm “allows” them to express pain, release tension, calm themselves, or feel something rather than nothing at all.
There's a lot to it, and it is becoming more and more common. When I started out as a therapist in 1988 this was rarely seen. It was something that we hospitalized teenagers for. It was "a cry for help" and a symptom of their serious depression or great internal turmoil. But that is not necessarily the case today. Things are so different. It's not quite a "fashion statement" yet, but so many girls (especially girls) are using cutting as a way to punish themselves, or to deal with emotions like loneliness, anger, shame, or guilt, that I now see it in my office two or three times every week. Please take a look at the hand-out if you just need some more information on the topic.