I was asked this question recently and I’ve been trying, all day, to formulate an answer. I don’t really have one. And I suppose I don’t really consider myself a “cutter’ – much as someone who drinks every day might not consider themselves an alcoholic? I don’t know. I think I am much more of a psychological cutter wannabe than an actual mutilator. I want to do it, but am so aware of the consequences that my cuts have not been overly dramatic…well, not too bad, anyway.
I’ve known cutters. My sister used to cut. Several of my female students used to cut a few years ago – one to the point of being committed to a psychiatric hospital for a bit. I had a male student several years ago who mutilated himself with fish hooks…I’ve only known a couple of males who cut, though. In my experience, cutting is the province of girls and women, much like poison. Why is that, I wonder?
For many years I have understood, on an intellectual level, the need/desire to cut. It tends to happen when people feel they have no control over events in their life – especially pain-evoking events – and cutting is a pain which can be totally controlled by them. Additionally, the physical release of blood represents the release of pain; of letting the pain out.
Despite an academic understanding coupled with a natural sympathy and empathy for the pain the cutter must be suffering, never could I understand actually cutting. That just seemed like the most ridiculous thing one could do…And my first episode was almost, I don’t know, accidental, if you will.
I broke a picture frame. The glass was everywhere. The picture itself was still perfectly intact and it pissed me off so I picked up a large shard of glass and scraped our faces out of the picture…cutting my arm was only a second thought. The next few times…I don’t know. I never go very far with it, have been careful, even in the midst of the act itself, not to do too much damage. I mean, I do have to go to school and face my students – and my son. How could I explain to them why it is okay for me to do it but not okay for them…
I don’t do it often. Really I don’t. The desire, however, is constant. And I really don’t know why. So, George, I don’t really have an answer. I tried, though.