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the cutter [updated]

[When you're done here, there's more here]

News flash: Self-mutilation and cutting among teenagers is not a new fad. It's been going on a long, long time.

There are just as many "root causes" for this as there are ways to mutilate yourself. For most of the teens who do this, it's a kind of release. They have bottled up emotions and the only way to let the pain out is to cut themselves.

It's a terrible thing. It causes life long scars, both physical and emotional. I don't really want to get into a whole post about the hows and whys of cutting, but I just want to address this post I found on the subject:

Emo kids are cutting each other? Thank God!

Apparently I am behind the times. Emo kids are now slicing and dicing each other to prove how "hardcore" (or is that passe, isn't it now "post-hardcore") they are. They're doing it all wrong, you see. If they were truly hardcore they'd take the razor blade to their wrist and slash up and down making a nice straight line from wrist to elbow......Kids, kids, kids. This is what happen when emo kids listen to sans testicles backed by a four power chord punk band. I know any metalhead who reads this will probably laugh their ass off because emo is such a pathetic genre that listening to it to the exclusion of other genres is the first sign of a mental problem.

It would take too long for me to address all the ways in which you are an asshole. Just know that you are.

Michelle Malkin does no better in laying the blame on Christina Ricci and Llamabutchers raises my hackles by suggesting that divorce/broken homes (how I hate that phrase) is a root cause of this self destructive behavior. Secure Liberty also blames it (a specific case that all three blogs write about) on the kid being upset about her parent's divorce.

Do you know anything about the statistics of cutters that you can just whip that little nugget of information out?

If you listen to some people, you'd think that every single child of divorce is doomed for a life of crime, drugs and despair.

Maybe they're not all broken homes. Maybe some of them are fixed homes, you know?

I'm going to delete this post, I know it. But, like a kid who cuts, I just needed to release a little of the anger building up over the "thank god" quip and the rocks thrown at divorced parents.

Update: I needed to quote this line in Malkin's piece:

There is even a new genre of music -- "emo" -- associated with promoting the cutting culture.

I laughed when I read that. It's a naive, uninformed sentence. Where did she get that information and where's her evidence, anecdotal or otherwise? Or is that just something she pulled out her conservative hat?

First, emo is not new. Not by a long shot. It goes back to the late 80's. And I have never heard of emo being associated with promoting the culture of cutting. I've known kids who cut while listening to country music. Does that make it associated with the culture of cutting?

Let's see. My kids are from a "broken" home and they both LOVE emo music. I better get home and hide the razor blades!

I'll probably have more on this later. There's a whole can of worms - no, three cans - inside of this one post waiting to be opened.

Update: Kimberly Swygert has more about emo and cutting.

Update 2: I also think a lot of you are missing the vital point here - while Malkin's pathetic take on emo music is frustrating to some, the real issue here is her (and that other idiot I linked to at Blind Mind's Eye) trivialization of self-injury and cutting.

You may be wondering why someone would intentionally harm themselves. Self-injury can help someone relieve intense feelings such as anger, sadness, loneliness, shame, guilt and emotional pain. Many people who cut themselves, do this in an attempt to try and release all the emotions they are feeling internally. Others may feel so numb, that seeing their own blood when they cut themselves, helps them to feel alive because they usually feel so dead inside. Some people find that dealing with physical pain is easier than dealing with emotional pain.

The more you know...

Here's another link that was left in the comments.

Jesse also sends along this link: The Healing House

TrackBack

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference the cutter [updated]:

» Opinions Actually Are Like Assholes... from Pandagon
I want to thank Michele Catalano for writing that response to this remarkably stupid Michelle Malkin piece.... [Read More]

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» THE NEW YOUTH CRAZE: SELF-MUTILATION from Michelle Malkin
My column today is on a strange trend that I've been hearing about from concerned parents and child psychiatrists. It's called "cutting." If you've got kids, especially young girls, please give it a read. Here's the intro: Have you heard... [Read More]

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In this article for TownHall.com, Michele Malkin inserts the following odd and unknowing cultural reference to bolster her tirade against youth and Hollywood: There is even a new genre of music -- "emo" -- associated with promoting the cutting culture.... [Read More]

» The new conservative craze: Blogging on things you know nothing about from Right Thoughts

Whenever Michelle Malkin pretends to have her finger on the pulse of youth...ignore her. She's completely and utterly clueless. Her newest screw-up regarding pop culture is that Emo music is creating a new wave of cutters. If you don't...

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» Emo kids are cutting each other? Thank God! from Blind Mind's Eye
**UPDATE** Disclaimer: apparently the fact that I was being mostly tongue-in-cheek about this escaped some people. While 25% of me does genuinely get something akin to goose bumps at the thought of emo kids mutilating themselves and each other with... [Read More]

» A sarcastic, clearly tongue-in-cheek response to Michelle Malkin's cutting article from Blind Mind's Eye
Given that my previous post on the subject generated such a backlash at A Small Victory, I feel it is necessary to begin this with a disclaimer. By the kindness of providence, The Offspring have already done that for me:... [Read More]

» Estrogen Week: Michele Versus Michelle from Ilyka Damen
It's Catalano v. Malkin on the subject of teenagers and cutting. Guess whose take I prefer? (Note: Before you rush off to add your two cents to the comments, I really recommend reading the update.) Longtime readers know I have... [Read More]

» The Deepest Cut from Oh ... Really?
The Latest Craze? Michelle Malkin seems to think so, that teens cutting themselves is a "fad" inspired by celebrities, like Christina Ricci, and a pop music genre known as "Emo". While I respect Ms Malkin and find myself in agreemen... [Read More]

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» Self-Mutilation from a Cutter's Perspective from anima
Irresponsible articles like Michelle Malkin's do nothing more than cast self-injury as some attention-garnering child's game; a "fad" that that is more of a status symbol than any real problem or cry for help. It sheds misinformation on a sincere men... [Read More]

Comments

I think we need a department-sized effort in the federal government to provide these poor victims with chain-saws and all the gas and oil they can mix.

Two hundred billion dollars a year ought to the thing off to a good start.

It must be great to be perfect, Billy, to not have any problems, any doubts about yourself, any things going on in your life that make you sad, any hint of mental problems.

When did half the world become such blazing fucking assholes?

I like your comment about "fixed homes". I come from a fixed home as do all of my/our kids. So far, no cuttings. It must be a miracle.

God, people can be such assholes!

Nah, it's a good post and I think you're right on. Don't delete it. I think if you look at cutters and you had some way of really tracing the problem--which you maybe would be able to do through a bunch of therapy, if you were lucky--then it probably would often lead back to family situations. However, divorce alone, I would think, is an unlikely cause. Divorce sucks, but I'd be hesitant to call it emotionally shattering in and of itself. Just blaming it on that is an oversimplification. I would start looking, first and foremost, at some of the issues that led to the divorce.

But anyway, cutting is a hell of a complicated issue that can't be explained away with a pat answer.

And yeah, that person's an asshole.

Michele? You sense of sarcasm isn't doing this any good. Let me try it like this: Go pore over everything I've written online and see if you can come up with one assertion of my "perfect[ion]" appearing under my name. Go right ahead. I'll wait.

Do you understand?

What I understand, Billy, is that your comment made me angry. It's cold and callous and just reeks of someone who thinks his shit don't stink.

People have an obvious emotional problem and you want to give them enough rope to hang themselves? Teenagers? Sorry, but that comes out as "asshole" in my book.

You're right, Michele - This is far from a new thing. I knew kids who were into cutting themselves in high school.

Don't delete, Michele!! :)

So what? You make me angry too, sometimes. When it happens, however, I stop and think about it and I don't go about saying things about it that are manifestly ridiculous.

"Emotional problems"? Let me tell you something: we're talking about people who've been raised by people who had no earthly fucking clue to what they were doing, and nothing about any of it surprises me. It is all perfectly natural.

It does surprise me that you would take my suggestion of a federal Department of Chain-Saw Therapy seriously, but not much.

Maybe I don't understand people who feel the need to be facetious in the comments of a post in which the author is trying to convey something of a serious nature.

Hahah, kids hurting themselves is so funny!

You're still presuming. I don't find anything "funny" about it.

In fact, it's just about as completely horrifying as the federal budget.

Gah. Whatever.

So Malkin had something to say, huh?

Example #105721 as to why I'm pretty much fed up with political blogging.

"Whatever".

This will be the part where you throw me out of here, Michele.

Are you aware of what a mark it is to use that word the way you just did?

Don't think about it, whatever you do.

I only read the Malkin piece but she seems remarkably naive -- this has been going on at least since I was a kid and to give you an idea of how long ago that was, instead of emo it was done to a Neil Young and Al Stewart soundtrack.

As far as citing Ricci as an 'influence', I would say that she has her cause and effect confused. This is like saying alcoholism is Nick Nolte's fault and Karen Carpenter deserves the blame for anorexia.

Wow, Michelle Malkin's column makes me embarassed to be a conservative.

"There is even a new genre of music -- "emo" -- associated with promoting the cutting culture."

I guess a musical genre that's been around about two decades can still be "new"?

On the cutting issue, I have a degree in developmental psych and have been familiar with this for some time. Psychology, though, is one of those fields that everyone feels qualified to talk about regardless of if they know anything about it or not (as opposed to, say, physics). Hence the armchair psychiatry about this or that being the sole cause of this pathology or that illness, all of which is BS.

There's really never "one reason" for why things happen, and it's low to score cheap shots against Hollywood/divorced parents/whatever by thinking otherwise.

-----

"You're still presuming. I don't find anything "funny" about it.

In fact, it's just about as completely horrifying as the federal budget."

This is the sort of ridiculous bullshit asshats on the left usually say- when the post-structuralist grad student talks about "epistemic violence" as a more serious threat than "murderous genocidal violence." Let's be clear: someone who cuts themselves to cope with emotional and psychological pain is far more horrifying than the federal budget, and if you can't see that then you're morally- and probably otherwise- retarded.

One of my best friends did/does that. Even when we were adults he would do it sometimes. He always said it was because he was angry at himself or something along those lines. We shared an apartment for a year or so, and his cutting never approached anything I would call dangerous, so I didn't bug him too much about it. To me, it never seemed like he wanted attention or was trying to hurt himself, so I figured it was none of my business.

"Let's be clear: the case of someone whose whole life was crippled by the demands of generations of fixers and leechers working for 'democracy' is far more horrifying than the prospect faced by an 'artist' who might not get a grant of stolen money once Americans come to their senses."

Oh. Wait. That's not what you wrote. But guess what: my assertion is at least as valid as yours.

See, here's what you don't know: "horror" is an ethical response. It's about "values", which are, necessarily, very -- ontologically -- individual things. And you can indict mine if you want to, but I'll only point out that that's dual-edged sword.

Observe: I didn't say that you're "retarded".

Emo? I still don't know what that. I knew a few chicks that used to slice themselves. Excellent sushi chef's they'd make.

Oh, and Head from Korn has found Jesus. Pass it on.

Yeah, I found that Malkin line impressively stupid. A lot of emo might be associated with feeling like shit, but it's not about cutting. Guh.

Besides, I don't think you can make any sort of blanket statement about a genre of music that seems to encompass about a thousand different kinds of music.

Perhaps Malkin can next do an expose about how rock and roll promotes satanism.

Billy-

"Oh. Wait. That's not what you wrote. But guess what: my assertion is at least as valid as yours."

Duh.

"See, here's what you don't know: "horror" is an ethical response. It's about "values", which are, necessarily, very -- ontologically -- individual things. And you can indict mine if you want to, but I'll only point out that that's dual-edged sword."

See, here's what you don't know: "horror" is an emotional response to an ethical dilemma, not an ethical response. And values are not ontologically individualistic, unless you first accept an objectivist or existentialist (among others) set of premises. One of the world's many, many adherents to, say, Christianity or Islam (among others) would tell you you're wrong.

"Observe: I didn't say that you're "retarded"."

Observed. But you really cede moral high ground when you have to self-righteously point it out. But point taken.

I had a guy in my high school who used to basically whittle his hands during class. I forget whether this was before or only after his brother died in a car wreck. Nice guy, but you didn't have to be a brain surgeon to see he had some real problems.

WTF is "emo", and what bands play it?

Sheesh, you walk away from popular music after you turn 35 and look what happens....

BTW, I remember when "punk rock" was to blame for all this:

"Kids are scarring themselves while listening to "punk rock". How parents can protect their kids. News at 11."

I'm no psychologist, but it doesn't take one to see that frustrated kids who don't feel they are valued will find ways to express themselves. Cutting is a disassociative disease, much the same as anorexia is - there's denial involved.

My standard rule when raising my kids was to always, always, ALWAYS listen to them - from the time they were little and babbling about their toys, through the pre-teen years when it was all about the video game they were playing and how they beat the end guy, and as they got older, all about their music and the opposite sex and how they felt about the world...without being sarcastically critical of a teen's smug self-involved view of how the world revolves around them.

This is a lesson my ex never learned. He never wanted to listen to when they were little and desperate for his attention, and his entire body language and tone of voice let them know exactly how he felt about what they had to say - it was trivial and boring and a waste of his valuable time.

As a result, the kids gave up trying to talk to him beyond anything superficial. They also became dismissive of his declarative lectures on everything under the sun - his idea of parenting was "I'm the expert. What I say is right and you have nothing to offer."

The boys are now 25 and 22, and my daughter is 15. I'm not going to say that I raised them perfectly because there have been some rocky spots, but those didn't last - because we could talk things out. More importantly, none of the kids have yet to display any self-destructive behaviors and I attribute that to the simple axiom of "Just listen>/b>, even when you secretly don't care about the plot of their favorite cartoon show."

There's no greater way to show you care then to let your children know that you value everything about them - and the payoff down the road is priceless.

"One of the world's many, many adherents to, say, Christianity or Islam (among others) would tell you you're wrong."

"Duh." Eichmann (quick! -- someone trot out Godwin) would have made the same point to someone protesting the burning of Jews.

Pop quiz: "Is there a right or wrong? Is it important to sort it out?"

You wanna go on about the emotional standing of horror and its roots? Let's integrate our logic, then: no ethics? No horror. It's that simple.

And whether you've got your cutesy little ass in a twist about my "self" or not, what I pointed out about your "retarded" crack was certainly "righteous".

Tough shit. Have an ice day.

Michelle, thanks for having the patience to blog about this; I took one look at Malkin's column and just didn't know where to start. Her kids will never, ever listen to cool music.

Look, Billy. If you post on your blog that your mom has died, and I run to comment about how it's so much worse that social security is collapsing, then I'm morally and socially retarded even if you'd accept my logic on the merits- because I don't have the capacity to understand sympathy or what sort of things are appropriate to say; my moral and social growth are retarded.

So when Michelle is obviously pissed about something and your first response is to be snarky and then demand that she respond on the merits of your snarky comment, I'd say the label applies to you.

Grow up.

Trish
Amen.

And as much as I generally like Malkin, she's stumbled on to something here that's as fresh as a Roman tomb.

I've been in the news media (yes, feel free to throw stones) for almost 20 years. I want to say we've been doing stories on cutting for almost as long.

As one news director once put it- there are really only about 5 stories out there- we just keep swapping them around the country and packaging them up as new.

MSI, My Dear Cunt: whatever is between Michele and me safely leaves you out of it.

Fuck you.

Barfed by Billy Beck: "Emotional problems"? Let me tell you something: we're talking about people who've been raised by people who had no earthly fucking clue to what they were doing, and nothing about any of it surprises me. It is all perfectly natural.

Excuse me? Mister ... YOU have not a FUCKING CLUE about any of this. Not. One. Clue.

For the last 4 years I have struggled mightily to rescue my son from the ravages of bipolar disorder. One of the many symptoms of bipolar is the urge to hurt oneself ... cutting, overeating, undereating, drug abuse, high-risk behavior, suicide ... did you know that bipolar has a 25% mortality rate? Did you know that it is NOT a mental illness but a brain disorder much like epilepsy? It is controllable with medications, but there is no cure. It is NOT the result of being raised by clueless people. Is that what you attribute your idiocy to?

Horror? You would compare the horror of helplessly watching your child try to destroy himself by slashing his wrists or running out in front of a truck to the federal budget? I have been there. I have seen it. I have lived it. You do not know the meaning of horror.

And you find amusement in all this. Then you get all snarky when you get called on the carpet for your disgusting remarks.

I got two words for ya, buddy ... FUCK YOU.

(Sorry Michele)

Another thing in her article that jumped out at me - besides the emo/cutting thing - was that she says that the movie "thirteen" was directed at teenagers....which it clearly was not. weird.

"You would compare the horror of helplessly watching your child try to destroy himself by slashing his wrists or running out in front of a truck to the federal budget?"

"Helplessly".

Now, it's getting "funnny".

Billy,

I have to disagree with one of the above posters who called you retarded.

That's much too polite a word.

"Helplessly". Now, it's getting "funnny".

Billy, get the FUCK out of my blog and don't ever, ever come back here. You are a PRICK.

Your indignation might be better grounded, LissaKay, if the guy was blaming bipolar disorder on bad parenting. He's not, but you react as though he is. He's talking about kids cutting themselves, and you're talking about cutting as a by-product of bipolar disorder. Apples and oranges, ultimately, unless someone can provide the numbers that prove that cutting is necessarily associated with diagnosable bipolar disorder, which they can't.

Anyway, Malkin really needs to join the rest of us in the year 2005 if she wants to be taken seriously on stuff like this. I was embarassed for her at the mention of a "new genre of music."

I used to like Malkin. Then the Kid Rock thing. Now this. Despite her keen insight into so many areas, she is utterly clueless in at least as many.

My fifteen-year-old daughter has been cutting for a couple years. She does not do it because it's "cool"--in fact she is extremely embarassed about it, and goes to great lengths to hide it from everyone--her peers included. For her, it is the least objectionable release for her anger and pain. Without cutting, she says she would be doing hard core drugs, hurting other people who anger her, or suicide. She has tried very hard to stop, and I think she has. But the urges are still there.

Of course she has had therapy and her mother and I are doing all the things the pros say we are supposed to do. But she says, and probably rightly so, that no one can understand why she cuts, and the opinions of others are bullshit. This is terrifying for a parent--we're supposed to be able to "fix" everything.

Yes, her mother and I are divorced. No, she hates "Emo" music.

She is a big fan of bands like the Distillers, KORN and Marilyn Manson, but I completely believe her when she says they do not influence her to mutilate herself. She has her own mind and recognizes the difference between art and real life. Her pain, and her methods of dealing with it, are personal to her. They are not imposed by celebrities or peers. While I would love to blame others, that would be disingenuous.

Cutting is nothing to joke about. While it is not necessarily harmful in itself, it's underlying causes can be deadly. For a parent, it's devastating.

Michele, if you noticed, I ended my comment about the kid with the divorced parents by saying that it was just amateur psychology and common sense. I grew up with many, many kids of divorced parents, not one I knew escaped completely unscathed. Some were basically ok, and some were seriously affected. In almost every one of those cases the parent ignored it or pretended that the kid was fine. Guilt? Probably. So here we have a cutter kid with an obvious problem and a parent who admits she was clueless about it. It's just an educated guess, but it's not exactly out of left field. I never suggested that all such kids come from broken homes, but it certainly is one possible cause for some of them, don't you think?

@Geoff

Sorry I was not clearer ... what I am saying is that cutting is most often a symptom of something much deeper than what some pundits are bandying about. Bipolar, schizophrenia, autism, Aspergers are some of the illnesses that can manifest self-injury. This cutting "fad" is not the result of kids being raised by clueless parents ... or the influence of some genre of music.

MarkAase above expresses it much better than I can in my current state of rage at the crude insensitivity display by some. Thank you, Mark ... and God bless you.

I've re-read what I wrote, and I realize it sounds stupidly simplistic. I know that there are many parents who do everything they can, who listen and are involved with their kids and despite it all, there are still problems.

I guess what it boils down to is that it's not cut and dried. It's not a matter of "Well, stop listening to that music and then you'll be fine." There aren't any pat answers to why kids do what they do. The important thing is to be aware of what your kid is doing and get involved when they need help.

My heart goes out to the parents here who are dealing with these different kinds of issues with their kids - when we've always been able to protect them from the dangers of the world, it's got to be hell when we can't protect them from the dangers within themselves.

Trish, for what it's worth, I didn't take your comments as indictment of parents whose children are having problems.

To me it was simply a reasonable observation that one of the first lines of defense in raising a well-adjusted child is to treat them as though they matter.

And having watched my mother raise me and my younger brother I am well aware that this is not a guarantee of anything. Just a step in the right direction.

Different kids have different issues that can quite honestly be independent of their raising. It certainly helps to be involved in their lives however.

Thanks, Muckraker.

Just wow. Good for you, michele.

The post has certainly roused some feelings. From the tone of some I have read, I think it's a good idea I don't read the rest.

On Cutting

It's a matter of pressure. Sometimes a kid has to let the pressure out. Sometimes it's in a constructive manner, sometimes destructive. But there will be a release.

Cutting, self mutilation is a form of release. The child is taking action and releasing tension. Unfortunately, in a self destructive way. He sees no other way of doing it, so out come the razors or knifes and the blood flows.

In my considered opinion the best that can be done in this case is to give the child another way of expressing himself. Such as by letting him speak out regarding the pressures on him. Let him talk. Let him tell the people running his life what is bothering him.

We need to learn how to let our kids complain, and how to respond to those complain in a constructive fashion. No, I don't mean we should let kids handle their own affairs. They don't have the emotional resources for that. But we can listen and by listening help them deal with the pressure we place upon them.

People... the article was quoted by Malkin. She didn't say it. Yeah, the "emo associated with cutting" thing was stupid, but attribute it properly!

Maybe some of them are fixed homes, you know?

Mine was, and I still have the scars.

And please don't delete. But if you want to give Beck the bunny treatment, I'm all for that.

Sorry, Mark, but these are Malkin's words:

Actresses Angelina Jolie and Christina Ricci did it. So did Courtney Love and the late Princess Diana. On the Internet, there are scores of websites (with titles such as "Blood Red," "Razor Blade Kisses," and "The Cutting World") featuring "famous self-injurers," photos of teenagers' self-inflicted wounds, and descriptions of their techniques. The destructive practice has been depicted in films targeting young girls and teens (such as Thirteen). There is even a new genre of music "emo" associated with promoting the cutting culture.

There's a lot of information on self-injury at secret shame, too. If you want to be informed, you know, instead of being glad that kids are cutting or thinking that it's all about the right celebrities or -- well, I'm sure there are other idiotic statements made about this: easier to be sensationalistic than intelligent. (In case it's unclear: I am not accusing Michele of being uninformed or sensationalistic -- she isn't -- just the people she linked to and the troll in the comments here.)

It's about dealing with pain, generally, not scaring people by the woooo creeepy blood. It's not a healthy way to deal with pain, but there are lots of unhealthy ways of dealing with pain.

Thanks, Michele, for responding to the posts (and ni so doing, bringing these to my attention). It's sad that after so many years and so much research done on the topic that people still are actively uninformed.

Apparently the secret shame site has moved.

FWIW, I cut myself when I was in about 8th grade, did it without ever having seen anyone else do it, did it before most of these celebs were celebs (it was 1985) and didn't do it to impress anyone. Oh, and I'm male.

I did it in response to some messed up pressure that I directed inward. It's good to see that 20 years later Malkin is on the case, and that of course Hollywood is to blame.

Next she'll tell us that there is a new type of music "Hip Hop" that is designed to encourage kids to do "Dirty Dancing."

She just came off as another out-of-touch, clueless conservative. There's even a whole new genre of music devoted to this kind of thinking called "Toby Keith."

I would ordinarily not address the ridiculous comments of a self-obsessed wart like Billy Beck, but then I clicked through to his blog.

Have you seen the picture of himself that he has posted there? It's apparent to anyone with eyes and sense that he's a very, very lonely man looking for attention. It is very generous of you to have given it to him when he so obviously doesn't get much.

In the future you should avoid feeding the trolls. They just hang around and get more offensive as time passes.

And on a personal note, Billy, since we all know you're still lurking even if you have been banned: Your fashion sense is amazing. Hawaiian shirts are a spectacular choice and bring out your sallow complexion and sunken eyes really well. And semi-coherent rantings on subjects about which you have little actual knowledge beyond that found in Libertarian pamphlets distributed outside 99-cent stores are definitely the way to go if you want to be taken seriously by anyone outside your own little circle of foaming paranoids.

For future reference, I really don't go for the "attack the person not his ideas" thing. This is the first and last time you will post something like that, k? Bringing people's looks into arguments is...what's the word I'm looking for? Dumb. Yea, that's it. Dumb.

Uhh, what's emo?

Self-mutilation is a big red flag of something wrong....mental illness, a sign of abuse and so on.

Whatever its cause, it ain't funny....to the parent(s) or the child. And it shouldn't be to anyone else.

Let me tell you something: we're talking about people who've been raised by people who had no earthly fucking clue to what they were doing, and nothing about any of it surprises me.

Has anyone else pointed out that this fucking idiot doesn't have the slightest idea what he's talking about, and that calling him an "asshole" is an insult to all the assholes walking the earth?

They did? Sorry...

BTW, I knew kids that did this in high school, and that was back in the 70s. I blame the Eagles...

And I knew a full-grown woman who was "cutting" about five years ago.

As a heavy metal fan who hates emo - I did laugh my ass off when i read "I know any metalhead who reads this will probably laugh their ass off because emo is such a pathetic genre...". I used to have a roomate who listened to emo 24/7. When somebody told me he seemed depressed I naturally blamed it on the music. I feel that you can only listen to wailing, screeching, and snivling so long before it gets to you. For a good (entertainment) movie on self abuse see "The Secretary". Psycology can be fun.

Citizen, this whole thing flew right over your head, didn't it?

Michelle,

Gotta agree with "Citizen". Emo sucks. For God's sake - have a sense of humor and throw in some Vandals or the Meatmen or the Angry Samoans. The guy who writes the blindmindseye blog made me laugh.

That said, is he an asshole? Yes. I'm forced to think of that line from The Big Lebowski... "You're not wrong Walter, you're just an asshole!" That said, he's also funny. So were the Dead Milkmen when they made fun of the retarded. Still funny.

On cutting: it's older than emo, as many of your readers attest. Emo is what, maybe 15 years old now? It wasn't even distinct from bad punk until maye '95. But you know as well as I that a scene can encourage all kinds of nonsense among the weak. I remember a lot of the goths in Albany getting into heroin because of the peer pressure in their scene. And I don't think you can get any weaker than emo kids. So let's say cutting is making inroads among the emo kids... That's a bad combo if true...

Laugh dammit! I just don't get music that enables your bad mood. I'm off to listen to the Dead Milkmen now, and maybe some Richard Cheese doing "Holiday in Cambodia"... If you can't laugh, grab a zoloft, not an emo mp3...

thanks for not deleting, michele.
and i'd especially like to thank mark aase, whose situation mirrors mine almost identically, who wrote what i could not.
i promised her i would never write about it on my website and sometimes the frustration of not being able to vent is so very hard.

Rita,

If your kid is listening to emo to the exclusion of other genres, that is the first warning sign of mental problems. If you have never listened to real emo, it is excruciating to listen to an entire album.

Btw guys, thanks for the link. Obviously you could not tell that I was being mostly tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing. I was very briefly an emo kid myself in high school before I found metal and got straightened out musically.

So I guess it's safe to say most of you have never met any emo kids before. If you ever do, believe me, they will try your patience and part of you will rejoice at the thought of them taking razor blades to themselves. It's not right, but they're messed up in a unique way that tends to defy even the strongest compassion this side of eternity.

The reality of this is that Michelle Malkin is clueless. I take it you didn't realize I was very much making fun of her as well for her naivete. Most emo kids are unbalanced in the sense that they have an unusually, and unrealistically, high sense of their own self-worth and coolness. Ironically they tend to be the dorks in HS during that phase of their lives. I seriously doubt that most of the kids that do this even listen to emo.

Malkin pisses me off. Why? Because her knowledge on this subject is Powerpoint-deep, and she has no business trying to be a voice for anyone when she doesn't know what the hell she's talking about.

It makes me wonder just what else she's decided to push that she knows nothing about beyond a few buzzwords. If she's so lazy a researcher and intellectually dishonest as to publish this piece...what else has she screwed up?

Funny, JimK, I was just wondering the same myself. I have accepted her view on several topics because they made sense at first blush, and they seemed to jibe with my own views in general. When I was too lazy to do the research, I gave her the benefit of the doubt on occasion. No more.

I have a book claiming the increased divorce rate will destroy modern culture. Of course, the book was published in 1889, over 100 years ago...

It is really depressing how the same story gets told over and over, with a find/replace command used to update the latest outrage and the "immoral" group to be blamed.

In the 1930's, the "seductive music of the saxophone" was deemed harmful to young girls' morals. 1950's-era rock and roll promoted Satanism. Elvis Presley's hips were unfit for television audiences as late as the early 1960's. Every wave of new music since has been blamed for teen suicides, drug use,

In short, Ms. Malkin is just using a "find/replace" command to update an old cultural theme. It isn't original, and it isn't research, it is just a retelling of old folk tales.

(Not sure if it was accurate, but a popular poster during the late 1960's had a quote from someone from ancient Greece complaining about the weird clothing and hair styles of the young - about 1,000 BC or so. If it was an urban legend, it was at least more factual than anything Ms. Malkin ever printed.)

LissaKay and Ratty: Thanks, it feels good to know I'm not alone in this. I hope everything works out well at your end.

Michele, thanks for bringing this up and not deleting.

Billy Beck, you and I have agreed on many guitar and music related items, so I know deep down you're not the rat others would like to think you are. But on this issue, you're way off base.

It is very ironic that you would call me an idiot when you clearly didn't have the ability to tell that I was being almost entirely tongue-in-cheek. Be happy knowing that I have now added an update to that entry to drive that point home since apparently I gave too much credit to the ability of people reading that post to realize that it was meant almost entirely as a joke. You truly are a force for change in this world, aren't you?

With comments such as "Normally when I think emo, I think of a low budget version of the therapy done to Alex in A Clockwork Orange performed with stapled eye lids, LSD and copious amounts of The Promise Ring for a sound track" followed by "Arguably the greatest argument for faith in Christ is undoubtedly the fact that emo will be the ambient music and elevator music in Hell..." do you really think I was being serious? On top of that you compounded it by having to go down to that wonderful rhetorical low of name calling.

Oh and Michele, on numerous occassions when I was in high school, I nearly became one of these "cutters." Just because you lack a sense of humor light, dark or otherwise, doesn't mean that you are uniquely qualified to make wholesale value judgements against others over a single blog post. I don't have much sympathy for real emo kids cutting each other because almost every single emo kid I have ever met has been a self-absorbed asshole who would just as soon as cut someone else as themself.

I feel very sorry for the kids that are doing this to themselves because they have real problems to deal with. So many of the people I have been close to have had depression problems that I recognize it for what it is: a tragedy. However, as far as I concerned, if you are taking a razor blade to yourself, and you don't have any such real mental problem but just think it's genuinely cool and edgy, you deserve whatever you get. That, Michele, would be the emo kid, not the probably poor goth girl that has real problems to deal with.

Hmmm I just noticed that Billy Beck has the same beef with you. Is your bullshit detector turned off today or what?

Rarely does a punk band actually accurately describe a situation anywhere near as much as The Offspring do for this one, Billy Beck:

ladies and gentlemen
welcome to the disclaimer
that's right the disclaimer

this american apple pie institution
known as parental discretion
will cleanse any sense of innuendo or sarcasm
from the lyrics that might actually make you think
and will also insult your intelligence at the same time

so protect your family
this album contains explicit depictions
of things which are real
these real things are commonly known as life
so if it sounds sarcastic don't take it seriously
if it sounds dangerous
do not try this at home or at all
and if it offends you just don't listen to it

Michele, consider me corrected. I didn't realize that she was quoting herself.

Final thought: while Malkin may not really "get" the issue, I think it's in an important issue that needs to be kept alive for as long as it is a problem. I had a woman approach me last year and ask a lot of questions about cutting. She has two children in their mid-teens, and she wanted some insights into cutting, which I was happy to share. Whatever gets parents to start asking those questions is a good thing, I think.

Cutting is pretty serious. I had a friend in college who did it on a regular basis, and she was nowhere close to Emo, but bordered on hippie instead. Come to think of it though, these days college "activist" culture presents a much more syncretic relationship between the standard counter-culture genres than any time in recent memory. Back on topic, I believe Mike's rant was more poignantly directed towards the absurdity, or rather the flagrant cry for help, that IS much of Emo culture. I never much cared for that specific genre, and found myself gravitate towards Christian worship music or heavy metal in times of depression or anger (respectively). It is very hard for me to understand the appeal of whining and dissonant structureless music. Cutting, like most self destructive behavior comes from feelings of helplessness, depression, and from what I can tell, an inability to get anyone to really listen to you and have compassionate understanding towards problems in your life. People need other people to talk to about stuff in their lives. Goodness knows I do. Maybe if we make ourselves open to listening and really love these kids unconditionally there would be less cutting.

MikeF, the problem with both you and Billy wasn't that people thought you were serious. The problem was that people thought the sarcasm was inappropriate.

If your wife falls off a cliff and dies, and I say "Hey, did she have a nice TRIP?? Maybe we'll see her next FALL!!" it's pretty apparent that I'm sarcastic. It's also apparent I'm an asshole.

Part of being funny is timing, you know.

It is very hard for me to understand the appeal of whining and dissonant structureless music.

This might be something of a non sequitur in this thread, and I hope it doesn't come off as callous, but Jason's comment reminded me of this book, which criticizes a lot of modern American music for being ... ugly. Not just "emo" or punk in general, but rap, metal, and "hard rock."

As someone who listens to more "rootsy" music and certain ethnic genres, I found it refreshing to find someone else who shares my opinion on "musicians" who think that pleasing an audience's collective ear means being a "sellout."

That's just my (and her) opinion, though... listen to whatever you like. :-)

hey guys, did you know that heavy metal makes you want to kill yourself? It's true.

I never knew kids who cut, but when I was in HIgh School I knew a lot of kids who burned themselves with cigarettes.

It was Disco and KISS they listened to back then...so, yes I'm an old guy, and you know it's nothing new...

Blaming the behaviour on generalities like "broken homes" (I liked the "fixed homes" comment too, by the way...) a musical genre or on celebrities who have had the courage to talk about it is just a way of avoiding talking about the real causes.

more brilliant discussions from the blogosphere. can we go back to the old media? because this sucks.

In other news - there's a new feeling called anger being promoted by a band called Slayer...

MSI,

There is nothing tragic about kids cutting themselves because they think it's cool. Unlike Michelle, I separated in my joking the typical emo kids from those who have emotional problems. I was very unstable myself in high school, and now I am not. If I were to take a razor blade to myself now "to try out cutting," I would be an idiot, not a victim of anything other than my idiocy.

Stop assuming that many of these kids that do stuff like this are victims of bad circumstances. You are writing a blank emotional check to an entire generation that all they have to do is pick up, fill out and cash. That is most of the reason I lashed out at Michelle in response to her undeserved criticism.

Unlike Billy, anyone of reasonable intelligence reading my blog post could see that I was poking fun at a specific group, not all of those into cutting. Let me ask you this, would you feel sorry for kids from rich families that are still married, who have everything going for them including a loving home with parents that support them and no diagnosable mental problems who get into "cutting?"

I'd like to think you'd backhand them and tell them to stop being idiots rather than shed any tears over them. That's not being insensitive, that's being appropriate.

If you want to argue that this form of "risk taking" is inherently a sign of mental illness than I'll go you one better. Half of all of the college students in America are then mentally ill. They go out and get wasted on a variety of intoxicating substances friday and saturday and many of them have sex with complete strangers knowing damn well that some of them could get AIDS and die. So I guess we're just falling apart mentally as a nation, that we're just one big pill-popping happy family...

This whole thing seems to be yet another form of escapism. Everyone does it in some manner.
Cutting is not new, nor ever has been.
Piercing is another form.
Tattoos are another.
There are even those who use self mutilation as an expression of dedication or honor. The retual of becoming blood brothers(or brothers in the blood) is one where two people will cut either their thumbs or the palms of their hands and hold them together to symbolise the sharing of blood.

The whole thing is a form of subconscious expression twisted in ways that are associated with the lack of personal experience of real world actualities.
I know this all sounds like bullshit but think about it. There is a bit of self-loathing in all of us that takes a form not often recognized by us or others.
This is often brought on by a sense of personal weakness or hopelessness. People who feal as if they have no place in the world because the world is so large while they are so small. They have no answers so they find a way to escape.
People drink to escape this.
People use harsh drugs to escape this.
And now people are cutting. Despite the fact it is not a new situation, it is new in contrast to alcohol or drug abuse.
I've read others discuss how this is a sign of evolutionary failure on a mental level. The notion that if we cannot improve ourselves, or make ours and others lives better while fealing like we have fullfilled our purpose in life then we are helpless or hopeless failures.
It is also a non-scientific estimate that seven out of ten individuals who reach this level of personal conflict end up either continuing into other areas or they find relief in religion where the self is no longer the point of existence.

There is plenty more to discuss on this subject but it is far too massive, reaching into far too many other areas of human nature for it to be easily explained in one, two, or even ten sittings. Books are out there that cover it and the theories expand almost to the infinite.

MYOB'
.

MikeF-

Look, I wasn't arguing the merits with you. I'm saying that people who disagreed with you aren't so stupid that they didn't see your sarcasm, they just didn't appreciate the sarcasm on the subject. That's ALL.

As to the merits, your logic doesn't work because drinking and sex are actually physiologically pleasurable, while self-mutilation is, by definition, physiologically painful. The pursuit of pleasure isn't inherently pathological- although it can be when taken to an extreme- but the pursuit of pain is.

lol... maybe i'm heartless (maybe?)... but i laughed out loud at that "the emo kids are cutting themselves..." quip...

...man... i remember kids cutting themselves from when i was in middle/high school (mid-late nineties)... they were all on some bullshit and did it "so they could feel something"... bastards. they all just needed a hug. hell... nine out of ten of 'em would quit if you gave 'em a boy/girlfriend... the other one? well... yeah, that's the one you send to the guidance counsellor...

...my point is... these kids were lame... (i should know, i hung around them for years)... malkin's an idiot for blaming it on hollywood... jolie and ricci are not causes of this behavior... they are an outgrowth of it...

...as for emo... i think my sentiments can be summed up in this: one day, not long from now, i will face off against dashboard confessionals, jets to brazil, and all the other bastards. on a mountain top... with broadswords... and i will come down with a knapsack full of scalps and royalty checks.

From MikeF, echoing what I've read many times elsewhere: Unlike Michelle, I separated in my joking the typical emo kids from those who have emotional problems.

Oh, I love this one: there are the kids who have real mental/emotional problems, versus the ones who just cut/act depressed/binge eat/whatever for kicks. And you, sir, are the arbiter of mental illness, able to diagnose it at a distance and decide who is deserving of ridicule and who is not. Way to go, man - you, sir, are clearly part of the solution.

Moebius,

One of the girls I knew when I was a freshman in high school did stuff like this to herself out of boredom and because she was constantly seeking attention. When I talked to her two years later after I had moved away, mysteriously she had in two years "outgrown her clinical depression." She has a long scar from where she clawed her wrist open with her finger nails, but she openly admitted to me over the phone that she didn't have a depression problem.

So excuse me if I do believe based on experience that it is quite possible for someone to hurt themselves for a reason other than mental illness. Would you call people who practice light sado-masochistic sex which sometimes does include lightly cutting yourself and your partner a mental illness, at least the same one that we are discussing here? Most people would call it perversion, not a serious mental illness.

My sympathy is spent on those who do it as an outlet for real problems like people with suicidal tendencies and even an outlet for real mental anguish when they feel there is no other outlet for them. It is not wasted on people who do it for kicks.

Unlike you and others here, I am not willing to take on faith just because someone says they have one, that they are genuinely mentally ill and need help. Mental illness is not something you go to a doctor and they take tissue samples and tell you with a high degree of certainty whether you have it or not. One of the most dangerous things about mental illness is that it can be just a bad reaction to something or improper raising or whatever. Many kids are prescribed psychotropic drugs like Ritalin, Zoloft and Prozac that they don't need and to serious consequences later on in life.

It is a serious issue, this tendency to just believe someone whenever they claim they have a disorder. Let's be real about something, it is often a great cop out in modern America. People claim it all the time in our legal system and get lower penalties. Mental illness must be treated like physical illness where we rigorously test those who claim it and then if they don't have any condition that can be proven they are held to a much more normal standard.

I come from a broken home, a broken school system and at least a dozen times my dad got so drunk that he nearly beat the living shit out of me. Many of my friends went through basically the same thing growing up. Stuff like that is not in and of itself a justification for behavior like cutting. By Malkin's thesis I should be disemboweling myself or murdering others since a long time ago I gave up emo for goth metal and occassionally death metal and black metal.

So excuse me if I look at these kids who do it without mental problems and say, "I feel sorry for you, but what are you going to do about your life?" No one ever asks them that. When was the last time in any of these articles or blog posts someone asked these kids after they get counseling what they are going to do to better themselves?

If you don't ever feel the need to ask them that question then just admit to yourself that you are concerned about the issue and not the individual people. Sometimes caring about everyone in general is just a cop out to make you look better because deep down inside you don't give a damn about anyone in particular. I'm not concerned about the issue, I freely admit that. What I am concerned about are the individual people I meet who need help.

From my understanding cutting has been around far longer than emo music. I've been listening to indie rock back when Husker Du was still together and this is the first I have heard about cutting and emo being thrown into the same mix.

Who/what is emo? We listen to country music, we do stuff together on weekends.
I found out that my daughter is/was a cutter at the beginning of the year. She is the youngest of five children and yes her father and I are still together.
She is at the top of her class. Why did she cut? She said to release pain. Alot of her friends are/were cutters. Her friends told her that was the easiest way.
Her brother (the ony boy of the family)was sent to Iraq and she was afraid he wasn't going to come home. She didn't know how to talk about her fears. She wrote poems and expressed her pain through words. I found some of the poems she had left on my desk by accident and when I read them I was shocked! After asking alot of questains over and over, the truth finally came out.
This is something we as parents really need to get a handle on and fast. Any one that is interested in assisting in putting together information for phamplets for the schools and for other parents or any one that has information they want to share, please email me at ajones2745@bellsouth.net. Our children need our help. Parents need our help. Trends can be broken.

Hey there...

The cutting fad isn't "new" per se. But it's been increasingly popular and that's... that's disturbing.

There are a lot of cutters who do it for attention. Maybe that wasn't your reason, but yeah it sucks.

Anywayyyyyy...

I'm doing a psychology report on cutting and I was wondering if you'd answer a few questions about this issue.

Email me please ! jala731@yahoo.com

blergh. Sorry I can't help, but I really want to elaborate on this issue since there seems to be a lot of disagreement.

There are a lot of people who cut because they do have serious issues and there are also a lot of people who cut because they crave the attention. I recognize there are both. Not everyone who cuts is mentally ill and not everyone who cuts does it for attention. I think what's scary about cutting is that teenagers are encouraged to cut because it's such a "trend" nowadays. What's even more infuriating is that it really takes away the attention that REAL cutters need. We all have problems, I'll agree with that, but if you're doing it cause you want attention then... maybe you should... get... a life.

I guess I don't have a real solution for people who don't have attention cause I don't really get any (i'm like the ultimate loner heheh), but I don't really mind not having it since I've never really had it. In any case, I have a lot of problems. Moreso than most people I know who cut. I mean, I guess it's suffice to say, I get all of my meals and I sleep in a comfortable bed and I have a computer. I guess if a psychiatrist took a good look at me, they'd label me clinically depressed, but I have no real reason to complain, you know? I have all my physical comforts met and my parents let me play computah games :DD blam blam! But I still feel pretty sad or numb a lot of the time. I mean, if I can deal with my emotions reasonably well, I think other people should be able to as well.

(Youuu cann dooo eeettt)

That's just me ^^;

i started cutting age 20 because i was suicidal. i cut because i couldnt kill myself, couldnt quite work up the nerve to cut that deep, didnt know how much pressure to put on etc. the first time i did it i felt disgusted with myself and very ashamed. i felt so weak that i hadnt managed suicide, and just had these pathetic scratchy marks. years went by and i would pass through phases of cutting more or less, depending on what was going on in my life. the trigger situations for me are abandonment, anger, self-hatred, or intense grief about something. for me cutting is about self-hatred mostly. its an expression of how i feel about myself. i feel ashamed of it, and for years have kept it hidden. recently i came clean to my friends about it but dont let them see; i still cant face that and hey dont think theyd want to see anyway! what i would really like to say is that for most serious cutters, they do not do it for attention, they do it cos they have reached a point in their mental lives where they cant cope and have very warped thinking and self-perception going on. surely that can happen to any person of any race or culture? this is a problem with a person's mental health, not musical tastes. i would so love to be different, but i had a screwed up childhood and genetic predisposition to mental illness, so i guess thats just me! i am in therapy for it but htis isnt really helping much at all. i think SSRIs are the only thing thats allowed me to stop before. i dont know anyone else who cuts and dont feel that cutting is THAT well known about still. certainly when i started i could not name one celeb who did it and i still couldnt till yesterday when i read this article! oh and one more thing, please, anyone who encounters a cutter, be they young or old, please view the whole situation with compassion AND take it seriously. you may think there is such a thing as a cutting craze, but really, this is so different to music and fashion, this is about injuring yourself. whatever the reason it needs to be tackled with understanding and an open mind. thanks..

well, enjoy the debate...