Health  Vol.2 No.4 , April 2010
Cutting and other forms of derma-abuse in adolescents
ABSTRACT
Cutting or self inflicted epidermal damage (derma-abuse) describes a number of blood- letting behaviours among adolescents. Unlike suicidal behaviour, it is associated with low lethality and the absence of suicidal attempts. The purpose of this study is two-fold: Firstly, to present and discuss vignettes of four young adolescents and secondly, to study the dynamics and characteristics of six derma-abusers who have attended Dual Group Therapy (DGT) concurrently with their parents for a six month period. Our findings suggest that patients involved in derma-abuse are generally non-suicidal but engage in comfort cutting for the psychological release of pain, tension reduction and anger management. There is a preponderance of females (80%) with an over-representation of mixed origin and borderline cultural states. In this small group, males amounted to 20% and were more bizarre, gruesome and brutal in their self-abuse. Of the total sample, 10% were of African origin, 60% were of Indian descent and 30% were of mixed ancestry. Psy- chodynamic factors explored in Dual Group Therapy (DGT) are the emphasis on non-suicidal intent, association with tension reduction, reclaiming power and mastery over self and others, life and death instincts, the significance of bloodletting in a socio-cultural context, trans- generational conflicts, dysfunctional family dynamics frequently with parental separation and sexual abuse and early sexual induction.

Cite this paper
nullMaharajh, H. and Seepersad, R. (2010) Cutting and other forms of derma-abuse in adolescents. Health, 2, 366-375. doi: 10.4236/health.2010.24055.
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