Could My Spouse Be Cheating???

blaming

Are you involved in a marriage where you are constantly thinking your spouse may be cheating?  If you are, there are several things to look for.  I ran across this article on huffingtonpost.com written by Kiri Blakeley (CafeMom’s blog, The Stir).  These signs, better known as “red flags,” are normally present if a spouse is cheating.  Take a look… better yet, share this with your spouse!

1. He starts dressing better. According to divorce lawyer Marilyn Stowe, this is still a sign you should look out for. Did he suddenly morph from flannel and dirty boots to smart suits and shiny loafers? I’d add in wearing cologne all of a sudden, or changing the cologne he always wears to something new. Could be a sign the mistress gave him a bottle that she likes better.

2. Guarding the cellphone. This is one I’ve heard a lot in my girlfriend circles — he suddenly starts sleeping with the cellphone by his bedside, or bringing it into the shower with him. He may turn it off when you’re together and say he doesn’t want to be disturbed while he’s with you — but he really doesn’t want to risk her texting or calling while you’re there. If he won’t even let you touch his phone, something’ up.

3. Password protecting everything. In this day and age, its prudent to password protect your phone, but it can also be a sign if he suddenly starts doing it when he never cared before. Or he refuses to give you the password.

4. He takes out new credit cards in his name. According to Stowe, this is a sign that he’s spending money on the new flame — especially if the bills go to another address or he has them delivered online only.

5. He begins making hurtful remarks about you. Picking fights all of a sudden is a classic ploy — this way if he ever gets caught, he can blame it on you and say you two were always fighting!

6. He begins to drop a female name into his conversations. I’ve heard this one before, that a guy having an affair will start bringing up a certain woman all of the time. Apparently it gives him an adrenaline rush to feel like he can talk about her and get away with it. I’d also add avoiding talking about a certain woman — say he starts working on a project with a woman but he NEVER mentions her. That’s weird if he’s spending a lot of time with her.

7. Talking about how “ugly” or “horrible” a certain woman is. This is one I’ve seen a few times — a guy tries to cover up his attraction to a certain woman by slagging her off every chance he gets.

8. He suggests separate holidays. According to Stowe, this is a clear sign he wants you out of town.

9. Doesn’t want sex. He may not reject you, but he’ll go along with your rejections where he may have previously fought them. Now it’s like, “Sure, let’s watch a movie instead. Noooo problem.”

10. Social media. I’m simply amazed at how many men forget that their wife or girlfriend is on their Facebook and yet they will flirt or even “check in” with another woman also on his Facebook. Must think women are blind!

Love Everlasting Part 2!!!

Last week I discussed how to make a marriage/relationship long lasting. For me and my spouse it is having a solid foundation with God and unconditional love for one another. Plus not worrying about what someone thinks we may be missing out on….. the whole grass is greener scenario. I listed the first three keys to a long-term relationship based on an article written by Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. published in Psychology Today: titled 7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success. 4-7 are as follows: 4-7 Keys for a successful long-term relationship are as follows:

4. Does Your Partner’s Communication Lift You Up or Bring You Down?

Dr. John Gottman of the University of Washington, a foremost expert on couple studies, concluded after over twenty years of research that the single, best predictor of divorce is when one or both partners show contempt in the relationship.

Contempt, the opposite of respect, is often expressed via negative judgment, criticism, or sarcasm regarding the worth of an individual. In communication studies, this is known as being “tough on the person, soft on the issue.” An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue (or behavior), and be soft on the person and firm on the issue. An ineffective communicator will do the opposite – he or she will literally “get personal” by attacking the person, while minimizing or ignoring the issue.

For example:

Ineffective communication: “You are so stupid!”
Effective communication: “You’re a smart person, and what you did this morning was not very smart.”

Ineffective communication: “You never do any chores. You’re useless!”
Effective communication: “I noticed that you didn’t do the chores this week.”

Ineffective communication: “You’re always forgetting about me – do you even have a clue?”
Effective communication: “I know you have a lot on your mind lately, and I think it would be good for us to have a date night to reconnect.”

Contemptuous communication works like poison – it destroys the health and well-being of a romantic relationship.

Consider the following questions:

  • Does your partner’s communication lift you up, or bring you down?
  • Is your partner’s communication with you “soft on the person, firm on the issue,” or the other way around?
  • What about your communication with your partner?

If your relationship suffers from ineffective communication, the good newsis that as long as you and your partner are willing, improvements can be learned quickly and put to use immediately. For more resources on this topic, click on titles & download free excerpts of my publications: “How to Communicate Effectively and Handle Difficult People,” “How to Successfully Handle Passive-Aggressive People,” and “Communication Success with Four Personality Types.”

“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”   Brian Tracy

5. How do You and Your Partner Deal with Conflict in the Relationship?

It’s normal for a couple to quarrel from time to time – just part of what it means to be together. Conflicts and arguments won’t necessarily jeopardize a relationship. In fact, there are times when disagreements can actually bring a couple closer together. The key is in how you and your partner decide to handle the conflict.

Couples with poor conflict resolution skills typically engage in Fight, Flight, or Freeze behaviors. They fight and stay mad, sometimes holding grudges for years. They flight and avoid important issues by sweeping them under the rug. Or, after endless arguments with no resolution in sight, they freeze emotionally and shut down. Someone who freezes in a relationship typically goes through the motions on the outside, but has stopped caring on the inside.

Successful couples have the ability to solve problems and let it go. They focus on taking care of the issue rather than attacking the person. Even when angry, they find ways to be upset and stay close at the same time. Once the matter is resolved, they forgive and forget. Most importantly, successful couples have the ability to learn and grow through their interpersonal difficulties. Like fine wine, their relationship improves with age and gets better over time.

I was sitting at a coffee shop once when I witnessed a brilliant example of an elderly couple’s conflict resolution. They were sitting next to me when the husband accidently knocked a cup of water over the table and onto his wife. As he got up to get some napkins, his wife announced to everyone: “He’s been doing this to me for twenty-three years!” And as the husband gently cleaned off the spill on his wife, he turned to us and said: “She deserves it!” His wife laughed. He laughed. We all laughed.

“The group with whom I’ve always been most fascinated is the one I call ‘marital masters’ – folks who are so good at handling conflict that they make marital squabbles look like fun. It’s not that these couples don’t get mad and disagree. It’s that when they disagree, they’re able to stay connected and engaged with each other. Rather than becoming defensive and hurtful, they pepper their disputes with flashes of affection, intense interest, and mutual respect.” – John Gottman

“Let the little things go. People who struggle often fight over little things. We obsess over things that don’t really matter. We create resistance instead of letting things glide off us. Let the little things go, breathe, and move on to the important things.” – Leo Baubauta

“…and at the end, so much of it turns out not to matter.” – from “Evening”

6. How do You and Your Partner Handle External Adversity and Crisis Together?

Several years ago, my elderly mother sustained a major injury and became incapacitated. My wife, the amazing woman that she is, helped me care for my mom. When I told my wife how grateful I was for all that she’d done, she simply smiled and said: “No problem, she’s MY mom too!” The flip side of this example is once when my wife felt extremely stressed studying for a professional exam, I poured over a three hundred page study guide and outlined it for her. I simply wanted to help make her task a little easier.

Like all couples, my wife and I are a journey in progress. One of the traits I’ve noticed about highly successful and enduring relationships is the partners’ ability to stand together in the face of external challenges. A true test of a relationship is whether two people have each others’ back when times are tough.

Consider these questions:

  • Do external adversity and crisis bring you and your partner closer together, or pull you farther apart?
  • In difficult life circumstances, do you and your partner act like adults or children?
  • Can you and your partner share the bad times, or only enjoy the good times?

“Companions who have endured physical challenges together… form a bond that can last a lifetime.”

– Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor II

For more on how to stay strong in the face of life’s challenges, click on title & download free excerpts of my publication: “The 7 Keys to Life Success.”

7. Do You Have Compatible Financial Values?

Numerous studies have identified disagreements over finances as one of the top reasons couples seek marital counseling, as well as one of the top reasons for divorce. While a variety of financial factors can affect nuptial happiness, such as the level of one’s consumer debt and spending habits, one of the most striking statistics is the correlation between frequency of financial disagreements and divorce. According to Jeffrey Dew of the National Marriage Project, “Couples who reported disagreeing about finances once a week were over 30 percent more likely to divorce over time than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times per month.”

Differences in financial values often appear early in a relationship. For example, who pays for the first date? What about the second date? And the third? Is your partner happy when you give a thoughtful but non-monetary birthday gift, or will he or she feel disappointed because you didn’t purchase something? Additional questions to consider:

  • Do you and your partner argue over finances regularly?
  • Do you often cringe when you see your partner buy items you believe are a waste of money, or vise-versa?
  • Is your partner generally happy with what he or she owns, or is there a constant, insatiable desire to always acquire more? What about you?
  • Are you and your partner able to solve financial difficulties and differences as a team?

Formulating with your partner a viable financial plan, paying attention to patterns of financial discontent, initiating conversations early to resolve differences, and seeking financial or couples counseling when needed are some of the keys to maintaining financial peace.

“Married couples don’t have to be facing poverty or a job loss for financial issues to impact their marriage. Rather, decisions like whether to make a major purchase using consumer credit or how much of a paycheck to put into savings can have substantial consequences for the short-term and long-term health of a marriage. In particular, couples who are wise enough to steer clear of materialism and consumer debt are much more likely to enjoy connubial bliss.” – Jeffrey Dew

In closing, whether you’re single, dating, or in a committed relationship, these seven keys to long-term relationship success may serve as a “check-up” of your relational health and well-being. With self-honesty, openness, and a desire to grow, you can significantly increase the possibility of not only having a wonderful partner in life, but making the love last. To grow old with your life mate, knowing that in each other’s warm embrace you have found Home.

 

Happiness

secretofhappinessWhile people have many and varied goals that they pursue, there is an almost universal underlying goal to virtually all pursuits: the goal to be happy. People who spend a lot of time making money generally do so because they believe that the money itself will make them happy, or will guard them against things that will make them unhappy.We judge everything in our life in terms of how it relates to our happiness. We hear people say countless times: ‘do what makes you happy’, ‘we wish you a happy life’, ‘your happiness is most important’. The key to finding true happiness starts with finding out what makes you feel the happiest. The basis of all happiness starts with your feelings. There are all kinds of reasons to be happy. It feels good and makes for a more enjoyable journey through life. If you have been searching outside yourself for happiness, you’ve been going about this is all wrong.  Happiness is a choice we make, independent of the circumstances of our lives. My thought on happiness is that it is a choice I make daily, no matter my circumstances. Life does not come with a guarantee that everything will be perfect and go your way. In my opinion it is the trials and tribulations that you go through that transform you into greatness and a happy person. What are your thoughts on happiness?

Stress Eater!

 

Stress

How many people are stress eaters? In reality stress is normal, Stress is the body’s method of reacting to a challenge.  Stress typically describes a negative condition or a positive condition that can have an impact on a person’s mental and physical well-being.  We all experience stress at times in our lives, now the negative conditional reaction is the kicker.  Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges.   Most people respond to stress negatively with negative behaviors. My own personal response to stress is a decreased appetite. Some stressful days at work I can go all day without eating anything. By the time I get home my body and brain has crashed then I end up eating a very unhealthy dinner and head straight to bed.  For 8 hours or more I’ve starved my body and brain from nutrients that were needed to keep me afloat throughout the day. Most have the opposite effect that I have to stress, they become stress eaters. Meaning they eat whatever is in sight or smell. Those foods are called comfort foods because afterwards they are on cloud 9 and that stress challenge has been remedied. Well, if stress eating is your response to life’s challenges I have found 10 foods to improve your moods.  Having a stressful day and you feel the need to pig out I challenge you to try these 10 foods from the article provided by Mother Nature Network.

1. Pumpkin seeds
The humble pumpkin seed is a mighty source of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and especially magnesium. Only about one-third of Americans meet their daily magnesium needs; not enough of this important mineral can lead to a higher risk of headaches, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, nervousness and high blood pressure. Magnesium is a brain super food, and a whole lot of it is getting thrown out when you carve pumpkins and toss those seeds!

2. Dark, leafy greens
Kale, Swiss chard and other dark, leafy greens are packed with magnesium, a deficit of which can lead to the complaints listed above, which work to create the perfect environment in which stress thrives.

3. Eggs
The gold standard of protein, eggs also provide calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorous, and vitamins A, D, E, and K – all in one little 80-calorie package – making them one of the most nutritionally-dense foods around. Drew Ramsey, a psychiatrist at Columbia University and author of “The Happiness Diet,” praises nutrient-rich foods for battling stress and notes that scrambled eggs are part of his favorite anxiety-reducing breakfast.

4. Carrots and celery
Carrots, celery and their crunchy brethren work more on a mechanical level. Chomping and chewing work as physical relief to stress, and may be particularly helpful for those who have a habit of grinding their teeth. Bonus: They also help to fight bad breath!

5. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids (like sardines, salmon, canned tuna)

Omega-3 fatty acids can help soothe your mood by quelling the body’s response to inflammation, says Joe Hibbeln, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health who has spent decades studying how omega-3 fatty acids in fish effect emotional health. He notes that studies show how omega-3s help buffer neurons from the harm that chronic stress can create. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been linked to helping with depression as well as encouraging more positive social behavior in children. (And yes, there’s the mercury issue, but there are ways around that problem.)

6. Flaxseed
Some consider flaxseed to be one of the most powerful foods around, and with good reason. There is some evidence showing it may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Its high omega-3 content lands it in NPR’s list of stress-busting foods, and there are testimonies across the Internet of people who praise flaxseed oil for saving them from depression and mental illness. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health notes that there is some evidence that taking flaxseed oil might improve attention, impulsiveness, restlessness, and self-control in children with ADHD

7. Whole grains
Whether on their own — like brown rice, quinoa or oatmeal — or in whole-grain products like breads and pasta, we’re talking hearty carbohydrates that have not had all of their nutritional integrity processed out of them. Carbs prompt the body to produce more serotonin, the chemical that is commonly known as the “happiness hormone.” By getting your serotonin from complex carbs that are not as easily digested as simple carbs, your blood sugar levels will also be more stabilized.

8. Red peppers, papaya and kiwi
What do these three foods have in common? They have more vitamin C per serving than oranges; and vitamin C is the key here. Multiple studies point to C for curbing stress hormones. As Psychology Today reports: “People who have high levels of vitamin C do not show the expected mental and physical signs of stress when subjected to acute psychological challenges. What’s more, they bounce back from stressful situations faster than people with low levels of vitamin C in their blood.” Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and leafy greens all boast high vitamin C levels as well.

9. Tea

Drinking black tea may help you recover from stressful events more quickly, notes WebMD. One study looked at people who consumed four cups of tea daily for six weeks, compared with people who drank something else. At the end of the study, the tea drinkers reported feeling calmer and had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after stressful situations. Meanwhile, chamomile tea has been used for ages to calm jitters and relieve stress.

10. Dark chocolate
Cocoa flavanols in chocolate can help boost the mood and sustain clear thinking; and study after study touts dark chocolate’s ability to increase feelings of wellness and decrease stress. Not to mention, it might make you smarter. Is it just a coincidence that the higher a country’s chocolate consumption, the more Nobel laureates it creates? More chocolate, please.
Read more: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/10-foods-to-improve-your-mood#ixzz37fAboEYL

 

 

Love Everlasting Part 1!!!

 

This month my husband and I are celebrating 18 years of marriage. Being married for almost two decades several friends have asked, how you make marriage work for so long? And “do you ever think about the grass being greener on the other side?” My answer, first having a God fearing spouse and having a deep loving relationship with God is key. Secondly, I never wonder about the grass on the other side because I get all that I need on my side. The following is an article titled 7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success written by Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. published in Psychology Today: The first three Keys for a successful long-term relationship are as follows:

 

7 Keys to Long-Term Relationship Success

Most of us want to meet and settle down with the “right” person, and most of us want such a relationship to last. Have you ever seen an elderly couple holding hands, taking a romantic walk on the beach or in a park? You may think to yourself: “That’s how I want to be when I grow old.”

It’s a wonderful notion: having someone as your mate in a happy and lasting relationship. At the same time, over fifty percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Between what we want, and the reality of our society, there’s a deep chasm of false hopes and unfulfilled promises.  What are some of the most important ideas when it comes to making your love last? Below are seven keys to long-term relationship success.

1. Do You Trust Your Partner?

Trust is the first and perhaps most important predictor of long-term relational success. Without trust, none of the other six predictors that follow will have much meaning. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • In general, is your partner reliable and dependable?
  • Does he or she keep important promises and agreements?
  • Can you count on your partner as the “rock” in your life?
  • What about you for your partner?

For some of us, trust is a complicated matter. Some people trust blindly. They are with someone who has shown time and again to be untrustworthy, yet they continue to give that person underserved chances. As the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” To allow a chronically untrustworthy individual to be one’s significant other is to create an inherently insecure relationship, which may ultimately lead to disillusionment. Evaluate your partner’s trustworthiness based not upon unproven promises or wishful thinking, but on a strong overall record of dependability.

While some people trust blindly, others have trust issues. Often due to negative experiences from the past, there are those who can’t trust a committed relationship, or the opposite sex, or people in general, or even themselves. In romantic relationships, they struggle to trust their mate, no matter how dependable their partner is. Here, of course, the trust issue is likely within oneself. Ask honestly whether the lack of trust is based on solid evidence or unjustified fears. If the answer is the latter, it may be beneficial to seek counseling and support, to allow oneself to trust appropriately again. Don’t allow fear push away a good man or woman in your life.

“For it is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest that holds human associations together. Our friends seldom profit us but they make us feel safe. Marriage is a scheme to accomplish exactly that same end.”  – H. L. Mencken

2. Are You and Your Partner Compatible in the Dimensions of Intimacy?

Authors Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor II identified four ways with which we can feel closely connected with our significant other. The four dimensions of intimacy are:

Physical – Hugging, kissing, caressing, cuddling, holding, and other forms of physical affection. Physical intimacy certainly includes sexual intercourse, but doesn’t have to. As long as other aspects of the relationship remain sound, physical intimacy between partners can often last a lifetime, even if sexual potency diminishes due to factors such as health, age, and stress.

“Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you.”  – Jacques Prévert

Emotional – The ability to effectively express and validate tender, loving emotions, in a manner that’s nourishing and constructive, and being able to respond affirmatively when the other person does the same. For example: “How are you doing?” “How are you feeling?” “I love you,” “I appreciate you,” “I like it when we talk like this,” “I’m glad we’re spending this time together,” “you’re very important in my life,” “I’m sorry.”

A person’s “heart withers if it does not answer another heart.”  – P. Buck

Intellectual – Can brains be attractive and sexy? Absolutely! Especially for those who feel a sense of kinship when they engage in discussions or endeavors with a partner whom they feel is an intellectual equal.

“The marriage was a meeting of hearts and minds both. Madame Lavoisier had an incisive intellect and soon was working productively alongside her husband (chemist Antoine Lavoisier)…they managed to put in five hours of science on most days – two in the early morning and three in the evening – as well as the whole of Sunday, which they call their day of happiness.”  – Bill Bryson

Shared Activates – Interactions that build a positive memory bank of shared experiences. Examples include playing, cooking, dancing, exercising, art-making, traveling, worshipping, and problem-solving together. In this dimension, it’s not just the activity that matters, but whether two people are able to bond while interacting with one another.

“When partners spend time together, they can develop unique ways of relating that transform the relationship from an impersonal one to an interpersonal one.”  – Ronald Adler and Russell Proctor II

For more on love and intimacy, see “Irresistible and Funny Quotes About Love to Brighten Your Day.”

Here’s a quick exercise to check you and your partner’s compatibility in intimacy. List the four dimensions as follows:

_______________________________________________________

Partner A                                     Partner B

Physical

Emotional

Intellectual

Shared Activities

_______________________________________________________

Next to each dimension, rank whether this is a “Must” have, “Should” have, or “Could” have for you in your romantic relationship. “Must” means this dimension is crucial for you, without which you would feel the relationship amiss. “Should” means this dimension is good to have, but you don’t necessarily have to experience it every day. “Could” means this dimension is relatively unimportant – you can take it or leave it.

After answering for yourself, next ask your partner to rank, or on your own put down how you think your partner would prioritize. Below is one example of some possible combinations:

_______________________________________________________

                                               Partner A               Partner B       

Physical Intimacy                   Must            Must      (Excellent Comp.)

Emotional Intimacy              Must           Should   (Good Compatibility)

Intellectual Intimacy           Should        Should   (Good Compatibility)

Shared Activities                   Could          Must       (Poor Compatibility)

_______________________________________________________

The more “must-must” and “must-should” combinations between you and your partner, the greater the possibility of an intimate relationship.

If there are one or more “must-could” combinations, dialogue with your significant other to see if the “Could” can be transitioned to a “Should.” For example, a partner who’s not very physically affectionate can learn to give a hug a day, or a spouse who’s emotionally reserved can learn to share important feelings when necessary. While some expressions of intimacy may come to us more naturally than others, we’re all capable of learning and growing in new directions.

When left unreconciled. The “must-could” combination, even if manageable in the short-term(perhaps due to the intensity of sexual attraction and/or relative newness of the relationship), may in the long run become problematic. Few experiences in a romantic relationship feel more lonesome than an unmet “Must” need for intimacy.

Since relationships are not static, a couple may evolve in the dimensions of intimacy. Even similar intimacy preferences need flexibility to mesh and jell. Understanding one another’s priorities, and connecting in ways that are important to both partners help ensure long-term relational success.

“Complex, fulfilling relationships don’t appear in our lives fully formed. Rather, they develop one encounter at a time.”

“The key to a happy marriage isn’t having a “normal” personality but finding someone with whom you mesh.”  – John Gottman

3. What Type of Person Shows Up Within You in this Relationship?

Consider the friends in your life. Do different friends bring out different sides of you? Maybe you’re more reserved with one and more rambunctious with another. Perhaps you’re patient with some and quarrel with others. A friend may trigger your higher or lower tendencies.

Just as a friend can elicit a particular side of you, so does your partner. Consider the following questions:

  • Does my better self show up when I’m with my partner?
  • Does my worse self show up when I’m with my partner?
  • Perhaps it’s a combination of both? If so, what situations tend to bring out a particular side of me?
  • Fundamentally, do I like myself in this relationship?

Your honest answers to these questions offer important clues to the long-term health and happiness of your relationship.

“Around people who are positive…I’m happier and able to be who I am.” – from the Internet

 

 

 

 

Teenage Self-Injury

Problems of teenagers

 

As a counselor for adolescents and their families I’ve come across a rise in teenage self-injury.  To improve my knowledge of this wave of teenage self-injury I’ve read many books and articles on self-injury to help me as a counselor and help my clients reduce the self injury behaviors.  Here is an article that I’ve run across many time by the New York Times, its very informative and helpful to counselors and parents of children and teens who self-injure.

“I feel relieved and less anxious after I cut. The emotional pain slowly slips away into the physical pain.”

“It’s a way to have control over my body because I can’t control anything else in my life.”

“It expresses emotional pain or feelings that I’m unable to put into words.”

“I usually feel like I have a black hole in the pit of my stomach. At least if I feel pain it’s better than nothing.”

These are some of the reasons young people have given for why they deliberately and repeatedly injure their own bodies, a disturbing and hard-to-treat phenomenon that experts say is increasing among adolescents, college students and young adults.

Experts urge parents, teachers, friends and doctors to be more alert to signs of this behavior and not accept without question often spurious explanations for injuries, like “I cut myself on the countertop,” “I fell down the stairs” or “My cat scratched me.”

The sooner the behavior is detected and treated, the experts maintain, the more quickly it is likely to end without leaving lasting physical scars.

There are no exact numbers for this largely hidden problem, but anonymous surveys among college students suggest that 17 percent of them have self-injured, and experts estimate that self-injury is practiced by 15 percent of the general adolescent population.

Experts say self-injury is often an emotional response, not a suicidal one, though suicide among self-injurers is a concern.

The Canadian Mental Health Association describes it this way: “Usually they are not trying to end all feeling; they are trying to feel better. They feel pain on the outside, not the inside.”

Janis Whitlock, a psychologist who has interviewed about 40 people with histories of self-injury and is participating in an eight-college study of it, says the Internet is spreading the word about self-injury, prompting many to try it who might not otherwise have known about it.

“There is a rising trend for teens to discuss cutting on the Internet and form cutting clubs at school,” the Canadian association has stated.

Celebrities, too, have contributed to its higher profile. Among those who have confessed to being self-injurers are the late Princess Diana,Johnny DeppAngelina Jolie, Nicole Richie, Richie Edwards, Courtney Love and the lead singer on the Garbage band album “Bleed Like Me.”

Common self-injuries include carving or cutting the skin, scratching, burning, ripping or pulling skin or hair, pinching, biting, swallowing sublethal doses of toxic substances, head banging, needle sticking and breaking bones. The usual targets are the arms, legs and torso, areas within easy reach and easily hidden by clothing.

Self-injury can become addictive. Experts theorize that it may be reinforced by the release in the brain of opioidlike endorphins that result in a natural high and emotional relief.

Dr. Whitlock, director of the Cornell Research Program on Self-Injurious Behavior in Adolescents and Young Adults, said in an interview that self-injury mainly seemed to function to “self-regulate feelings and help people cope with overwhelming negative emotions they have no other way to dispel.”

Self-injury makes some people feel part of a group. Teenagers who self-injure often report that there is no adult they could talk to who accepts them for who they are.

“A 13-year-old can go on the Internet and instantly find community and get hitched to this behavior,” Dr. Whitlock said. “When they don’t want to self-injure anymore, it means they have to leave a community.”

Self-injury can be manipulative, an effort to make others care or feel guilty or to drive them away. More often, though, it is secretive. Self-injurers may try to hide wounds under long pants and long sleeves even in hot weather, and may avoid activities like swimming.

Who Is Vulnerable?

Self-injury often starts in the emotional turmoil of the preteen and early teenage years and may persist well into adulthood.

Although female self-injurers are more likely to be seen by a professional, in-depth studies indicate that the behavior is practiced equally by young men and women. No racial or socioeconomic group has been found to be more vulnerable, although self-injury is slightly less common among Asians and Asian-Americans, Dr. Whitlock said.

Interviews with self-injurers have found background factors that may prompt and perpetuate the behavior. A history of childhood sexual, and especially emotional, abuse has been reported by half or more of self-injurers. Some seek relief from the resulting emotional pain. Others self-inflict pain to punish themselves for what they perceive as their role in inviting the abuse.

Low self-esteem is common among self-injurers. Childhood neglect, social isolation and unstable living conditions have also been cited as risk factors. In about 25 percent of self-injurers, there is a history ofeating disorders, as well as an overlap with risky drinking and unsafe sex.

The families of self-injurers commonly suppress unpleasant emotions. Children grow up not knowing how to express and deal with anger and sadness, instead turning emotional pain on themselves. Depression, for example, is often described as anger turned inward.

Although 60 percent of self-injurers have never had suicidal thoughts, self-injury can be a harbinger of suicidal behavior. It can also accidentally result in suicide.

“Those who self-injure should be evaluated for suicidal potential,” Dr. Whitlock said. There is some evidence that self-injury is more common among those with family histories of suicide. And some self-injurers suffer from chronic yet treatable emotional problems like depression,anxietypost-traumatic stress disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Self-injury can be set off by certain events like being rejected by someone important, feeling wronged or being blamed for something over which the person had no control.

Treatment

Although there are no specific medications to treat self-injury, drugs that treat underlying emotional problems like depression and anxiety can help. Most effective in general is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy called dialectical behavior therapy. People learn skills that help them better tolerate stress, regulate their emotions and improve their relationships.

The therapy also helps them see themselves not as victims, but as powerful agents, Dr. Whitlock said.

In addition, self-injurers can learn more wholesome ways to relieve stress like practicing meditation or yoga, engaging in vigorousphysical activity or reaching out to a friend.

Some self-injurers have noted that they can sometimes avoid the behavior, Dr. Whitlock said, simply by doing something else for several minutes when the urge arises.