Our expert says:
Cutting is a highly economical way for kids to freak out their parents - we can't help but feel horrified and alarmed when they do it. Fortunately, except in specific and special circumstances, it usually isn't about suicide, but is a signal of being upset and demanding attention.
So try to remain calm, firstly. Its not an addiction ( annover-used and unhelpful term ) but can become a bad habit, which deserves expert assessment and help in breaking the habit and substituting more effective ways to cope when upset, from a specialist psychologist. I'd prefer a psychologist, as meds are usually not the answer.
It is not usually primarily about Depression, and antidepressants usually don't help ( though of course they might be needed if there happens to be a significant properly diagnosed Major depressive Disorder in addition to the cutting ).
And a psychologist needs experience and sophistication, familiarity with this particular problem, and to use modern techniques such as CBT ( Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy ) rather than old-fashioned wishy-washy analytic type methods which don't work.
Any competent psychologist, having properly assessed your child, should be able to give you detailed advice on how specifically to respond to her specific patterns of cutting, so as to diminish its occurrence. Such broader intervention is a critically important aspect of proper treatment of this conditiopn, and should never be omitted. Do set up a session with the psychologist to discuss this issue and to draw up a response program to handle her crises.
Showing understanding does not mean communicating approval, and one does not want to reward such self-damaging behaviours. And if she receives loads of attention and love when she cuts, that undercuts, as it were, motivation to stop doing anything that is thus rewarding.
SO your younger children are significantly right - there needs to be negative consequences, carefully chosen on the advice of your shrink, for bad behaviour, and cutting IS bad behaviour.
And it IS manipulative behaviour, too.
I believe it is abusive for any parent to allow uncontrolled and unsupervised internet and cell-phone access to a child. There are many ways a computer technician could advise you to check on what she is doing with all her time online ( which she is in a sense blackmalining you to allow ) - and there are somne dangerous and definitely harmful sites out there which very actively encourage cutting and self-harm, and no such child should ever be allowed access to these ighly irresponsible sites. A cutter may also use social media to contact and swap tips and cuts with other cutters online, which is also unhelpful.
A parents / family support group would be an excellent idea, but I have never come across one, in SA or in any other country. As I mentioned above there is the very opposite, sites which encourage self-damage, which makes the lack of support groups all the worse.
IF the shrink's you have been paying so expensively, don't seem to be producing results, seriously consider seeking a second opinion, as this type of problem is often omitted from SA shrink training, and some shrinks really don't know how to handle it.
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