Dating a girl who cuts herself
She's the golden girl: she's pretty, she has lots of friends, she's successful academically, she seems to be doing well.The growing prevalence of such girls among cutters is well-documented; see for example Adler and Adler (2007), who assert that these girls are exhibiting a "voluntarily chosen deviant behavior" rather than true psychopathology.
Read the abstract of that paper: you won't find any mention of gender differences.Imagine a teenage boy who's not doing well in life: he doesn't have any friends, he's not doing well in school, he spends most of his time playing first-person-shooter video games.Let's suppose this teenage boy repeatedly hits the wall with his fist during arguments with his parents.Which brings me to one of my problems with the proposed DSM-V criteria.There's no mention of gender differences in the presentation of self-injury.But when you read the full text (available at no charge by clicking here), you find that 24.3% of girls were self-injuring, compared with 8.4% of the boys. The authors acknowledge the finding (in a single sentence) but they do not discuss it or try to understand it.
Furthermore, this study -- like most studies of NSSI - conflates the boy who publicly smashes the wall with his fist, with the girl who secretly cuts herself with a razor, in the same category -- a blurring of reality which further masks the magnitude and significance of the underlying gender differences.
Of course we need to be just as concerned about girls who are NOT pretty, girls who do NOT meet society's stereotyped notions of what girls should look like, and who are cutting themselves.
But I think that ignoring gender differences in NSSI disadvantages many of those who are struggling with this issue -- especially girls (both 'pretty' and not).
This boy would meet all the proposed DSM-V criteria for NSSI.
Now Imagine a teenage girl who secretly cuts herself with a razor blade.
It's risky to look at celebrity culture for any insights into the human condition, but in this case I think the stories of celebrities illustrate reasonably well what I'm hearing from young people, female and male, around the United States and Canada.