“Cutting, for most people, is a coping mechanism and way to deal with overwhelming negative emotion or no emotion at all,” confirms Janis Whitlock, Director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior in Adolescents and Young Adults. “It’s self medicating.”
“Our body is like a volcano,” says Dr. Kress. “The pressure builds on itself layer upon layer and it’s going to have to come out. Cutting releases endorphins which calms people down.”
“Sexual abuse or trauma can be some of the underlying reasons that lead to self mutilation,” says Janis. But, “about 44% of people have no other issues.”
Says Dr. Kress, “Sometimes it’s just that life is difficult and external pressures build up.”
Especially in Hollywood, other celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Drew Barrymore, Angelina Jolie and Christina Ricci have all faced battles with self injury.
Now, Demi just has to focus on getting better. While in rehab, treatment will most likely focus on two steps:
1) Helping Demi to “find a different outlet to let the pain out,” says Dr. Kress, “like writing, music, having healthy relationships, exercise and eating healthy.”
2) “Focusing on the underlying causes of the pain,” says Dr. Kress. “Help them to resolve what’s causing the pain and resolving it.”
DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) is another common kind of therapy used to deal with self-injury cases. “It helps people to stop long enough to recognize what’s happening and let the emotion pass without having to act on it,” explains Janis. “It helps them re-frame the negative stories they tell themselves that cause the emotions.”
“Cutting is a very secretive act,” says Dr. Kress. “It can be routine with paraphernalia and a place to go (ritual) and they enjoy it,” says Janis.
“It is also a cry for help,” confirms Dr. Kress.