Why are so many girls cutting themselves?

Megan Fox told Rolling Stone magazine that she had cut herself as a teenager. The proportion of girls who are cutting themselves is growing fast. How come? Read More


Why does it matter if they're pretty? A lot of girls who aren't pretty cut, too.

Yes, I too would like to know this

You have stated that pretty girls have a higher risk of self harm, however I did not see any data supporting this.

I would like to see what % of socially ostracized girls, "normal" girls, and popular (often pretty) girls that harm themselves is.

lots of girls cut themselves, regardless of physical appearance

I would ask Anonymous to read my entire blog, rather than just the headline. In the blog, I wrote:
"Of course we need to be just as concerned about girls who are NOT pretty, girls who do NOT meet society's stereotyped notions of what girls should look like, and who are cutting themselves. But I think that ignoring gender differences in NSSI disadvantages many of those who are struggling with this issue -- especially girls (both 'pretty' and not)."
One of the most common misconceptions I encounter among parents is that only unpopular girls cut themselves. Many researchers (e.g. John Bishop at Cornell) have demonstrated that physical attractiveness is a key determinant of popularity among American girls. In other words: Pretty girls are more likely to be popular than girls who aren't pretty. Nevertheless, being pretty (or popular) does not appear to protect girls from cutting themselves. On the contrary.
Unfortunately, I know of no research in which investigators have made an effort to quantify physical attractiveness of subjects (e.g. via independent raters) and then correlated that rating with the subject's propensity to NSSI. The scientific study of NSSI is still very much in its infancy. My statement that pretty girls appear to be at the same or higher risk than girls who aren't "pretty" is based on my conversations with girls and young women in more than two hundred communities across North America -- see my book Girls on the Edge for more on this point.

Do you think that Marilyn

Do you think that Marilyn Manson's cutting can be really considered a disorder, though? Isn't he doing it as part of his stage performances rather than an expression of emotional turmoil?

Thank you for taking the time to write this blog entry, by the way.

Marilyn Manson is weird - and proud to be weird

I think you make a good point regarding Marilyn Manson. Is his cutting merely a performance, or is it a genuine expression of emotional turmoil? More generally, one might ask: is his on-stage screaming - or his stage persona in general - merely a performance, or is it a genuine expression of emotional turmoil? With Marilyn Manson, it's hard to tell.

I think the case of Marilyn Manson illustrates some of the problems with the proposed DSM-V criteria for NSSI. The proposed criteria do not distinguish between individuals who injure themselves in public, to shock their friends or to achieve some other secondary gain, and individuals who injure themselves in private. The failure to recognize the importance of the public-private distinction is a major shortfall of the proposed criteria. My impression is that most (not all) individuals who injure themselves in public are male.

It's also a 'fashion'

It's also a 'fashion' statement, a rite of passage for many adolescents. Not that it's always the case but anxiety and social pressure can do a lot.

That said,

I'll keep it sort, or as much as I can.
Speaking as a cutter myself (it's been a few months now though.) I can say that there's a vast array of reasons. It started with biting my tongue, cheeks, digging my nails in to my hands, palms and arms to keep myself from screaming. To keep myself from the violent impulses I felt, to 'bring me down to earth' when I was hyper or angry and insensitive (or all of the above). I'd read about self injury, and one thing simply lead to another. I wanted to /understand/ why people did it. And when subconsciously I realized the correlation it grew from there. It turned in to this mood stabilizer, something to keep my feet on the ground, to keep me from crying, to keep me form hurting others (physically or verbally). And then it became something to feel, I realize how cliche it sounds. But it's true, I assure all of you. In my mania it became something to keep me from the spiraling in to that blissful, marvelous disaster I knew was coming and in my depression it kept me from leaping off that edge in to darkness.

Fashion Statement

I have to agree with Lolita. Cutting when I used to do it, was a way to control things like feeling of anger, hurt or the feelings of wanting to hurt someone. But does that make me one of the "pretty" girls that are not depressed or one of the "ugly' girls who are depressed? I mean I was successful in school, I had friends, everyone thought I was happy, even though I hated my friends, my life, school, everything and everyone around me.

Cutting has now become a trend of girls, like girls who want to fit in so they start smoking, girls are now doing that with cutting, I have heard people say they started to cut because their other friends were cutting and they thought they had to do that to fit in. Is that a "pretty girl" catagory or an "ugly girl" catagory? I don't think it is right or even accurate to say that there is an ugly and pretty catagory with girls that cut. There is obivously something that is bothering them that makes them cut, perfect life or not.

I know other people who cut that just do it for attention. Yeah, their parents might not know about it but their friends might. People might do it to get what they want from people by doing it because a lot of people misunderstand cutting and people take advantage of that. I had a friend that cut to make people feel guilty or sorry for her even though there was nothing wrong with her. I mean that is not an ugly girl or a pretty girl.

I believe that it is good that they are trying to find new ways to diagnosis people that do self-injury because when my parents found out, the person that was treating me thought it was okay to give me a prescription of prozac and see me every month to see how the medication was going. How did that help me? It didn't at all, I mean I threw the pill down the toilet everyday, went in lied in his face, yeah I take my medicane, I feel better, and had about 30 cuts up and down my arms. Do you think he checked my arms? No of course not. All I wanted when I was ready to stop cutting was someone to talk to about the way I was feeling but since I didn't trust my doctor, I didn't talk to him. I believe cutting/self injury is like an addiction once you start it is really hard to stop. I mean even five years after stopping the self-injury, I still get an unexplained urge to do it when I am stressed or something very emotional is happening in my life. Just thought I give my opionion on the subject.

for some reason cutting gives

for some reason cutting gives a person a feeling of control and relief when they're feeling helpless (personal experience)

just a thought

While the DSM-V isn't going to be perfect at it's first attempt to define this, at least they are making an attempt to create a diagnosis that doesn't require that self injurious behavior necessarily indicate(major)depression.

When my daughter started cutting, they put her in an inpatient unit (although the cuts were very superficial) and on antidepressants, then on an atypical antipsychotic and more antidepressants. When she showed signs of toxic reaction and could barely speak or move, they added cogentin (although I requested they take her off of everything and start again, I did not realize until later that the side effects were potentially fatal). At that point this former high achiever, pretty, self identified "nerd" did become depressed....resulting in a REAL suicide attempt, necorsis of the liver, a life flight and of course due to the psych history, refusal of a liver transplant. So we were told she would not survive the night. Fortunately she did survive and was able to tell us what pushed her over the edge was the side effects of all of the medications. She is now quite successful, in college, not on medications and no longer cutting.

Although not perfect, I think the DSM-V is making a step in the right direction. It will get better with time and experience. It may result in the saving of lives and health by more appropriate use of medications.

I find the second to the last

I find the second to the last sentence in the article important: "My bottom line is that these pretty girls are searching for a sense of self that's not about how they look, but about who they are. We reward them for how they look but we -- i.e. American society -- are much less interested in what's going on inside." Isn't this statement true whether we talking about the pretty popular girl, or the girl so average she is often overlooked or ignored. Isn't it true whether we are talking about boys or girls, women or men? Is it just me, or do all people yearn to be SEEN and valued. When people do not feel valued for their intrinsic worth it creates inner frustration that can become chronic. If that frustration is exacerbated by abusive or challenging life circumstances then I would wager it's easy for this frustration to morph into something else -- cutting, drug abuse, anger, meanness, etc. What can we do to help the people (of all ages) in our lives feel safe, seen and heard? There are more and more negative social behavior "viruses" cropping up in our society--cutting is just one. What will it take for good healthy ideas to spread like a virus through society? Wouldn't it be cool to catch a virus that made you feel like no matter what takes place in your life you have value? The virus would attack your mind and make you feel like who you are matters. You would approach life feeling like, "I am ENOUGH of what is needed to triumph in life!" I would sign up to be afflicted with such a virus.

real beauty shines from the inside

real beauty shines from the inside and that it doesn’t matter what type of clothing you wear, how you style your hair or how much makeup you apply. Your true beauty is exhibited by the way that you carry yourself


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I don't think that the

I don't think that the preocupation with gendered phenomenon is in anyway usefull or helpfull. By all means differentiate between disimilar behaviours, but i think focusing gender differences is just perpetuating stereotypes. Not helpfull for those suffering.

Reason of cutting

I am 100% agree with Laura. Your posted content is really very nice.