One of the hallmarks of being creative is the personality trait of high sensitivity.

But for many people, that sensitivity can lead to feelings of overwhelm and chaos.

Some deal with their high sensitivity very well, through adequate self care, respecting their needs for boundaries, by retreating from overwhelming social situations, and in other ways.

Some people take drugs, and others self-injure to deal with their stress and anxiety.

And anxiety can be heightened for those of us with the trait of high sensitivity.

See one of my articles on that topic: Sensitive to Anxiety and Depression.

The article Theory of Positive Disintegration as a Model of Personality Development For Exceptional Individuals [page 2] by Elizabeth Mika notes that psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski “was keenly interested in self-mutilation as a phenomenon suggestive of higher than average sensitivity.

“His Ph.D. dissertation, first published in 1934.. showed the co-existence of self-mutilatory tendencies, creativity and strong developmental strivings in a select group of creative individuals.”

Gary and Tor both self-injureA news report: Self-Injury Found to be Common in High-School Students suggests that “teens are harming themselves at rates higher than previously suspected”

A study indicated the most common reasons included “to get control of a situation,” “to stop bad feelings,” and “to try and get a reaction from someone.”

“This suggests that adolescents are engaging in NSSI [Non-Suicidal Self-Injury] for several reasons, including both regulating their own internal emotional states and trying to manage situations in their environment,” says researcher Elizabeth Lloyd-Richardson, PhD.

“Once thought of as a phenomenon only found in teens with mental health issues, the results support the notion that many adolescents in the community are self-harming as way to cope with emotional distress.”

A BBC News article Self-harming since the age of 15 says “It has been estimated that 10% of young people in Britain have self-harmed. There are no official figures, but hospital records show that nearly 500 adolescents a week are treated for deliberately injuring themselves.”

The article describes Tor: “a country girl who grew up surrounded by ponies and public school life. She had a normal childhood, with a normal family.

“But mounting pressure to achieve the entry grades for an exclusive sixth form college caused her to crack, and self-harm became a large part of her life.”

Tor said, “I think this is when it occurred to me that this could be a way of helping myself and letting the pain inside disappear,” she explains. “When you drag the blade across your skin it just feels a release.

“It’s like when you hold your breath, hold your breath. You just feel you are going to blow up. Self-harm is like when you breathe again.”

By age 20, Tor had dropped out of agricultural college and was homeless.

“She first began to turn her life round when she was given support by a Community Psychiatric Nurse who taught her different coping strategies. She also joined Safe House, a drop-in centre for vulnerable young people in Southampton.

“After nine years of self-harming and now aged 24, Tor has found a career she loves and hopes she can move forward with her life.”

[Photo from BBC article: Tor and her best friend Gary, who understands self-harm as he also cuts himself.]

Related articles:

Self-Injury, by Clay Tucker-Ladd, PhD

Self-Injury Found to be Common in High-School Students – “A study led by researchers at The Miriam Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University suggests that teens are harming themselves at rates higher than previously suspected.”

Adolescence and gifted: Addressing existential dread

Mental Health and Creative People: Self-Injury

Also see the Highly Sensitive site.

Other pages:

Angelina JolieCutting resources: articles sites books

Cutting / self-injury – includes quotes by and about Christina Ricci, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and others.

Angelina Jolie commented years ago:

“I don’t cut myself now. I have a child now. I think when you make a decision to have a child, you cannot think about suicide again and you can’t be self-destructive…

“I didn’t ever feel enough. I didn’t feel close enough to another person, didn’t feel alive enough… nothing ever felt real and honest enough.”


Emotional Health Resources

Emotional Health Resources:
Programs, books, articles and sites to improve your emotional wellbeing.


Social Emotional Health Program for Creative, Gifted, Highly Sensitive People

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