Attention Seeking vs. Non Attention Seeking
Cutting is a form of self-abuse. The person is literally making small cuts on his or her body. Self-harm generally starts in the early teen years and can persist for years. It becomes a way of dealing with emotional pain.
For cutters, self-injury is a way of coping with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness and rage. Cutting can release endorphins, much like addictive drugs, that create a euphoria (in a sense). There are two main types of cutters: Attention Seeking and Non Attention Seeking.
Types of Cutters: Non- Attention Seeking
Some call the non-attention seeking cutter the “true” cutter. They are cutting themselves as a way to deal with emotional turmoil, not just to get attention. Cutting is the way they deal with life, and they do it in secret.
This is one of the most disturbing things about the non-attention seeking cutter. They are driven by the need to keep their self-harm a secret. They are often withdrawn, quiet, secretive, mysterious, and they don’t often talk about their true emotions. The non-attention seeking cutter wants to blend in with the crowd, and would prefer if everyone would just leave them alone. They dress, act, and speak in a way that is designed to bring as little attention to themselves as possible. They believe that the longer they avoid attention, the longer they will be able to hide their secret: cutting.
If left untreated, the non-attention seeking cutter is more likely to make cutting an addiction. They are also likely to increase frequency and severity of cutting as time goes on.
Counseling for the non-attention seeking cutter is a delicate process, because they are fragile once they feel their ‘secret’ has been found out. They may feel very exposed, scared, and embarrassed and it may take time to earn their trust. This type of cutter usually gets better once they perceive that it is ok for them to talk about their emotions and their cutting.
Types of Cutters: Attention – Seeking
The attention seeking cutter is often very different from the non-attention seeking cutter. They want the whole world to know they cut themselves. They may cut a couple of times and wear a short-sleeved shirt to school the next day to get attention from other students.
The attention seeking cutter is not hard to spot because they want others to notice their cutting. They thrive on the sympathy they get for cutting and often use it as a form of manipulation i.e. “Give me what I want or I will cut myself”.
This type of cutter needs professional help as well. If they are willing to cut to get a certain level of attention, there is no telling how far they will go if they want more. The treatment for the attention seeking cutter is much different than that of the non-attention seeking cutter. It involves defining and enforcing consequences for cutting. As long as the attention seeking cutter gets away with cutting and gets the attention they want, they continue to cut. Once they realize they can’t get away with cutting, they can begin to recover.
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