Self-mutilation is categorized into three types. This is clinically useful because each type of self-mutilation is prevalent in certain mental disorders either as a central diagnostic or as an associated feature. The three types are:
Superficial/Moderate: The most common type of self-injury. It usually begins in early adolescence and refers to such acts as hair-pulling, skin scratching, and nail biting, which are the "compulsive subtype". The "episodic and repetitive subtypes" are comprised of skin-cutting, carving, burning, branding, needle sticking, bone breaking, and interference with wound healing; these are what is being seen in (most commonly) young women today. Skin-cutting and burning that occur episodically are the most common of all self-mutilative behaviours and are commonly an associated feature in a number of mental disorders - ie. borderline, histrionic, and antisocial personality disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorders, and eating disorders.
Stereotypic: Refers to monotonously repetitive and sometimes rhythmic acts such as head-banging, hitting, and self-bitting. This occurs most often in severly mentally retarded persons as well as in cases of autism and tourette's syndrome.
Major: Refers to infrequent acts such as eye enucleation, castration, and limb amputation. It is most commonly an associated feature of psychosis - ie. schizophrenia, mania, depression -, acute alcoholic and drug intoxications, and trans-sexualism. Patients' explanations for this behaviour tend to have religious and/or sexual themes - ie. the desire to be a female or adherence to biblical texts referring to tearing out an offending eye.
*Note* Stereotypic and Major Self Mutilation is seen in mental disorders or extreme cases. Superficial/Moderate is the most widespread and hidden/ignored type of self injury, and the focus of this page (disregard other two types when reading further).
This is the end of ignorance. There are all sorts of rumours out there about self-injury, and most of them are wrong. If you like living in your bubble and wish to continue to do so, then go back now, please by all means, evacuate this page. If however,
you choose to stay, THANK YOU. One less ignorant person makes the wold....well, less ignorant.
-Start a journal, poetry book, etc and write when you feel like cutting, it's a good way to verbalize your emotions.
-Write in red pen, or take a WASHABLE red marker and draw on your body where you want to cut....it satisfies the visual need for blood.
-Take time to pamper your body - ie take a long bath, to remind yourself that you are something to be cherished, not destroyed.
-Be with someone, even if you don't talk to them. Just having someone else with you helps immensely for some.
-Leave the situation, room, etc - go for a walk, change rooms - sometimes it could be the place or circumstances rather than a feeling.
-Find something to do with your hands. Doodle, play a computer game, something.
-Draw, colour, collage! Find some way of expressing yourself through art, or just free-hand.
Controversial: the next two methods are argueably helpful.
-Wrap a rubber band around your wrist and snap it when you feel the need to cut.
-Hold a piece of ice against your skin, be careful not to do it for too long.
These are two coping strategies that are recommended by health care practitioners, doctors, etc....but are questionable because they are a form of self-injury - physical pain (although slight and not permanent) to alleviate emotional stress.