A story that cuts into the lives of many
by: Kory Stone/Business Manager
Some might say that Kaitlyn Crossen, a clinical lab science student at Lake Land College, has it all. She is young, gorgeous, an all-star athlete and makes good grades. She grew up in a middle-class family with parents that adore her. She is sociable and kind. She is also been a cutter since seventh grade.
Those who say “he/she has it all” are simply referring to outward appearances. A delicate and intricate dance of genetics and environmental factors creates an individual from the inside out and because of this, outward appearances are not reliable indicators of what is going on in a person’s mind.
According to Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D of Pysch Central, “Some studies show that two to three million Americans at every age, socio-economic, and ethnic group engage in some form of self-injury (cutting, burning, or striking themselves to the point of soft tissue damage) each year.”
For many, including Crossen, it is an escape. It is a substitute that allows one to forget about emotional pain while focusing on the physical. Basically, people do it to feel better.
“It’s an impulsive act done to regulate mood,” Armando Favazza, author of Bodies Under Siege: Self-Mutilation in Psychiatry and Culture, observed.
Crossen says that it can also act as a reminder of the pain caused by someone so that she never forgets.
Cutting can also be a form of protest. In a world in which it is becoming easier and easier to escape via mind-altering substances, TV, video games and cell phones, people are losing the ability to feel fully alive. Cutting offers a person a chance for some to feel alive while also numbing a specific pain. When people have nowhere else to turn, they turn on themselves. Worse yet, it can become addicting like so many other forms of escape or release.
Like all addicts, cutters need help. According to Peter and Patti Adler, Ph.D.s and contributors to Psychology Today, companionship is the best thing for a self-mutilator. Just being there for that person and communicating with them without judgement is critical. One of the strongest reasons people cited that drove them to cessation was quitting for others. However, this may still leave underlying problems that drove the person to cut in the first place. Quitting for themselves was the second reason. Through cognitive therapies, people were able to see the value in their lives and how cutting diminished that value. A combination is often needed to fully resolve the issues that began the cutting.
Though Crossen still deals with some of the issue regarding self-mutilation, she has come far in her ability to cope with the underlying problems. Instead of cutting, she colors or writes notes and seeks counsel from her best friend.
While self-injury is not usually life-threatening, it is still a serious sign of a need. Do not ignore those that need help and find a trusted source to deliver that help.