Thursday, October 30, 2008


Patricia McCormick’s “Cut” was a young adult novel I chose based on a recommendation from my younger sister.  She said that it changed her life.  After reading it, I was saddened to have to correlate its self-harming subject matter with my lil sis…

In the novel, Callie is a self-destructive girl who cuts herself.  Never enough to kill herself, but just enough to feel the pain of being alive.  I have never personally cut before, so I’m not sure what it feels like.  However, after researching some on the web, I have discovered that it can be associated with relief, a way for the emotional pain to escape through physical means.  Callie is unresponsive to the steps her parents take to get her to express her feelings, and withdrawls herself completely from her friends, peers and family.  Engaging in the only activitiy that allows her to “breath,” she realizes she has a problem when the sight of shiny sharp objects gives her happiness.

Written in the first person as though you are Callie, as though you were the one dealing with the emotional stresses of being a teenager, the novel captivates you from the first page where she discusses doing anything to avoid answering her therapists questions directly.  Escaping into textile fantasies where the feel of the leather couch beneath her dominates her senses to the point where she can’t focus on what her “shrink” is saying, Callie looses herself in small day dreams to deny confronting the problems that have taken over her life.  After a nurse and her parents find out she is cutting herself, they send Callie away to a residential rehab community. 

After being threatened with expulsion, Callie begins to open up emotionally and verbally and volunteers sharp objects she has collected during her stay.  Aside from a rock-bottom attempt to cut herself with a piece of sharp tin foil, Callie makes progress, and it is clear she is getting better at separating wanting to feel better with inflicting harm.  The fact that this novel was written in the first person, like a letter, helped me to understand the rationalizing and reasoning that goes on when self-mutilating seems like the only way to make the pain stop.  After she comes to terms with the fact that you don’t need to cut to not feel numb any more, Callie is able to recognize her motivations for the harm: she feels partially responsible for her brother’s near death experience.  Giving voice to girls and women who feel so silenced that they have to resort to external cutting to get attention and release the internal pain, “Cut” opens the wounds some use to heal.

More information can be found HERE about cutting.

TIPS from girls of all ages to overcome cutting.

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