This is an attempt at summarizing Max Malikow's article in Education Digest. His is a challenging theme anent self-cutting by students in schools. Not too many psychologists have dared tread this highly sensitive area of research and immense human importance. About two million students in The United States schools deeply cut their skin from a part of their body. How really painful this has to be. They do not think, fear or bother about this resulting pain when they go for cutting.Cutting behavior is an off shoot of intensity. 'Silent clamoring around of human feelings and their gathering momentum over a period of time from within' leads to acts of self-cutting, self-harm and giving pain to one's own self. This is like the sudden bursting of an erstwhile apparently sleeping volcano. The gathering momentum is released. The damage is also done. The road to normalcy is also seen more clearly after this volcanic outburst! The damage is physical. Relief is emotional. The question of return to normal life relates to social context. Indeed, "Cutters are determined to hide the self-abusive behaviors and are adept at doing so. They fear discovery and being thought of as being crazy. Parents often deny this behavior".This attitude of denial and fearfulness needs to be curbed. Do not cut cutters. Prevention of cutting behavior is essential. Removing its causes is essential. Teachers in schools and parents of cutters must know that cutters need not be treated as having suicidal tendencies. They are merely neurotic. They fear social humiliation. They must not be ignored and put aside. More creative and thoughtful consideration of their behavior is required. Their feelings must be given a fulsome opportunity for fuller expression. 'Rejection' is the most fearful proposition to cutters. They need attention without being to overt about this.
Three major reasons are extended for cutting behavior. These are distraction, dissociation and symbolism. They are distracted towards self-injury for they fear what they feel. Their numbness of physical sensations and emotions occur due to pressure and intensity of feelings. This creates in them disassociation and de-personalization. This leads to self-injury. The experience of pain reassures cutters they are alive and human. Depersonalization can be stopped by self-injury. After self-injury, flowing of blood is an outward expression of an inner release of undesirable emotion. Blood and physical pain appear as a symbolism for release of intensity, tension and fear.
This tendency of cutting must be treated through a teacher who can render valuable support to a self-injuring student. The treatment includes behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, and medication. The last technique of medication must not be resorted to as far as possible. Public condemnation of cutters must never be there. For B. F. Skinner, they must be given sympathetic hearing. Exclusive assignments must be given to them. They must never be ignored. Patience and perseverance of a teacher will pay here.
Personal Opinion and Analysis
A sympathetic approach to cutting behavior and a positive way of looking at this phenomenon must be appreciated. It is only through this attitude that several other challenges to this world can also be properly looked into. Wide spread practice of self-injury among schooling going children, specially adolescents, is a very serious issue for educationists and others. A positive outlook and considerate stance is necessary for treating and preventing this apparently negative happening among students.