Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Please Don't - Reprise

Self-harm (SH) or deliberate self-harm (DSH) includes self-injury (SI) and self-poisoning and is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue without suicidal intent. These terms are used in the more recent literature in an attempt to reach a more neutral terminology. The older literature, especially that which predates the DSM-IV-TR, almost exclusively refers to self-mutilation. The term is synonymous with "self-injury." The most common form of self-harm is skin-cutting but self-harm also covers a wide range of behaviours including, but not limited to, burning, scratching, banging or hitting body parts, interfering with wound healing, hair-pulling (trichotillomania) and the ingestion of toxic substances or objects. Behaviours associated with substance abuse and eating disorders are usually not considered self-harm because the resulting tissue damage is ordinarily an unintentional side effect. However, the boundaries are not always clear-cut and in some cases behaviours that usually fall outside the boundaries of self-harm may indeed represent self-harm if performed with explicit intent to cause tissue damage. Although suicide is not the intention of self-harm, the relationship between self-harm and suicide is complex, as self-harming behaviour may be potentially life-threatening. There is also an increased risk of suicide in individuals who self-harm to the extent that self-harm is found in 40–60% of suicides. However, generalising self-harmers to be suicidal is, in the majority of cases, inaccurate.

Please Don't

When I cut myself
it was with your stainless knife
I pulled out.

It passed
me by, the caress
signalling the coming pain
and the red red blood.

Flowing down after,
Looking for you, calling out,
I try to say it.

Please, I say, don't.

January 15, 2009 10:28 AM
Edited today, May 17, 2011
First posted June 12, 2009


  1. I don't know how to feel about this one. Of all the poems of yours that I have read this is the only one so far that I have decided to give a couple of days to simmer, then I will come back to read it again. Maby then I will have an opinion, like my opinion is that important anyway.
    The word of the day fearti, if you remove two vouls you end up with a small explosion between the thighs(Webster Dictionary, circa I don't know).

  2. i like what you have offered here and feel like i might have to go and write something about this as well.
    i work with kids and adults with autism and "self injurious behaviours" ( or SIB's as they are referred to in " the literature") are frequent. my own exploration of these with my kids and adults has disclosed that SIB's can be everything from strategic to cathartic to sensation seeking to making oneself present to oneself.
    this is a deep well.. your poem gives it breathing room.

  3. thank you, Ghost. They are so so young...

    Harlequin, I know. I have only known a few but it was obvious how odd and deep the world of cutting is. This completely different relation to pain is compelling to me because pain is so one dimensional in my own life, something to be avoided at all costs. I have only known women and most of them have had an ethereal beauty that stretches outward though they do not recognize it with cutting down in the core somehow as a mostly secret thing.

  4. i like this.. i like the way you have written this.

  5. Thank you. It is a difficult topic. I have known a few "cutters" and I think the whole thing is really complex.

  6. huh. i was just thinking about this last night in very different terms. it has just recently gotten hot here and i worked yesterday and all i wanted to do was finish work, come home and then throw myself at the trails in the forest running. i've not run for a long time but i longed to hurt for a reason. i wanted my body to be used. i wanted to sweat (and normally this is something i'm not fond of doing) and i wanted to hurt. i wanted reassurance that i am here. as i ran i remembered a couple summers ago when i left my husband. i barely ate. it wasn't sadness, rather i was trying to escape the comfort and weight of my marriage. i carried around a hollow belly. it felt good. i felt alive. it felt as though i was close to understanding my body, as though i was close enough to privation to understand need and reward, not just satiating gluttony. and i ran, i sweat, i ached. i felt deliciously alive. i can understand the desire to have affirmation of this living state. culturally we are afraid of cutting and all and so we lump it toward the negative corner. i can somehow (perhaps perversely) see a great deal of positive in it and that startles me.

    interesting post, christopher.


  7. Erin, you succeed in intriguing me and confirming for me the complexity in the topic. I think the idea of aliveness equaling pain is right on

    In the lives of most who cut this attempt to be alive seems to be unsuccessful as a rise to joy as you describe it. As is usual for those behaviors we label "sick", there is a stockpile of unhappiness either already there or arriving hard on the heels of the behavior, and an entrapment that forces repetition.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

Get Your Own Visitor Map!