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September 20, 2006



What evidence exists that "this behavior may lead to a more serious psychological condition called Borderline Personality Disorder."

Richard Petty

Thank you very much for the question, which I think is so important that I shall expand into an article.

In a nutshell, self-cutting is a symptom that can be caused by a large number of internal imbalances, e.g. trauma, emotional turmoil, anxiety. Few things that get labeled as "illnesses" arise fully formed. Most develop piece by piece.

So someone with heart trouble may just start getting more and more tired, then getting short of breath and then developing chest pain, before finally the full illness declares itself.

Similarly cutting can be one of the early signs of borderline personality disorder. Clearly not everyone who cuts themselves develops the problem but many do. The results of longitudinal studies have prodcued very different results, so it's not very intelligent to try giving someone odds.

But the important point is that the risk of going on to develop something worse, is the reason for doing everything possible to help a person from progressing.

Let me know if you'd like some references.

All the best,




I think I misunderstood the
original point.

There is a difference between something being an early sign of a disorder and leading to a disorder, as the latter implies causality.

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