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Recognizing Self-Harmful Behaviors: Signs of Cutting

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Self-harmful behavior cuttingSelf-harmful behaviors are common among people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Research has found that engaging in self-harmful behaviors helps people with BPD to release emotional tension and gain some control over their feelings.

Cutting is one form of self-harmful behavior that someone with Borderline Personality Disorder may engage in. Because it can be easy to hide, people with BPD are more likely to engage in cutting than in other self-harmful behaviors. And, unless you know what to look for, you may never realize that your loved one is intentionally harming themselves.

Signs of Cutting

People who engage in self-harm through cutting most often inflict straight cuts on their wrists and legs, though they may cut themselves on any body part to get a sense of relief. Marks left by cutting are easy to hide under clothing, so you may not immediately have physical proof that your loved one is cutting themselves.

If you are concerned that a loved one is engaging in self-harmful behavior through cutting, here are some signs to watch for:

  • Inappropriate clothing: If your loved one is wearing full sleeves and long pants all the time, even in summer, it could be because they’re hiding injuries inflicted by their self-harmful behavior. People who are cutting are more likely to wear clothing that covers all of their body parts in order to hide their behavior. If your loved one always wore shorts and a tank top to bed, but you notice they are now wearing full-coverage pajamas, take note.
  • Unexplained cuts: If you discover cuts on a loved one’s body that they are unable to explain, it’s possible they inflicted those themselves. While a cut here or there can be easily explained away, it’s time to become concerned when you notice a constant stream of injuries that there could be no logical explanation for.
  • Possession of self-harm items: Possession of self-harm tools like razors, knives, and glass shards is a red flag. If you find any of these items in your loved one’s possession, ask them about it before jumping to conclusions.
  • Changes in mood: People who engage in self-harmful behaviors such as cutting are often dealing with depression or issues of low self-esteem. You may notice a change in their moods, behaviors, and relationships with others.
  • BPD diagnosis: If your loved one has a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, there is a high probability that they are engaging in self-harmful behaviors such as cutting.

Treating Self-Harmful Behaviors

If you notice that your loved one is engaging in self-harmful behaviors such as cutting, whether or not they have Borderline Personality Disorder, it will be important for them to get help. Because self-injury is often symptomatic of something else, such as BPD or depression, you will need to find treatment that addresses the disorder as well as its symptoms.

Treatment for self-harmful behaviors can help your loved one look at the reasons for them wanting to cut themselves and help them to learn more effective ways to cope.

If your loved one’s cutting is life-threatening, call 911 immediately.


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  3. carrie iannone

    what people do not realize about cutting is bpd means attention seeking, i am a cutter in what i would call ”remission”. i call it that because i now have diabetes and the last time i cut i lost use of my foot. it scared me into the commen sense i needed. every day is a struggle now.people just do not get it, cutting helps me stay under control, behave and be more normal. cutting is a release,but also so much more. i have scars everywhere and i meAN EVERYWHERE. they are a constant reminder of why i cut myself, the horrible past i lived, and at times still living. if you are a friend or family of a cutter do not bring them to psychiatric center, they keep you 2 days mess with meds. it doesnt help, makes things worse. they need your love encouragement, and be their for them as much as they need. no broken promises, no yelling, and definately no TOUGH them see their worthy, and their body is a temple not apeice of meat that needs to be cut. i never got any positive feedback from anyone,but i now see i have myself,but it took 34yrs,my body is ruined but my mind is sharp. when i said dont put your lovedone in a psych. center it is sometimes needed, judge it for yourself if the cutting becomes life-threatening DO SOMETHING IMMEDIATELY.but otherwise get them into therapy on a good drug regiment.. it wont cure the problems ,it will get better, it takes time.GOOD LUCK .

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