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This page is about cutting, a form of self-harm or self-injury, in which a person intentionally cuts their own skin with a sharp object, when not intended as a suicide attempt.

We have talked about cutting and self-injury in Why This Way, and we believe it can be a form of addiction that shares many things in common with other addictions. Cutting may fill the role of a coping mechanism in some people's lives.

Negative stigmas associated with cutting

It is common for people who self-injure to experience feelings of guilt or shame in association with what they do. In accordance with our practices about not trying to make people feel guilt or shame, we do not want to contribute to messages in society that depict cutting or self-injury as something shameful.

We have discussed the negative stigmas on cutting in relationship to smoking, a behavior which seems more widely socially acceptable in the U.S. Smoking is also an addiction and it can play a similar role of a coping mechanism for stress and other problems in a person's life, but, unlike cutting, it more directly imposes on people, through second-hand smoke, and it often poses more serious and immediate health risks than a person who is carefully cutting themselves using a sterilized blade, and attending to their wound carefully.

This observation seems to suggest that the negative stigmas on cutting in society are exaggerated compared to the actual impacts of the behavior, and may be based more on inferences about a person's psychological state from the fact that they self-injure, than on the direct impacts of the behavior itself.