I know it initially sounds kinda weird coming from someone who has a history of self-injury, but looking at the photo they used to advertise a piece on scarification gave me the creeps. At first glance, I thought it was an all-red tattoo (huh, really cool-looking). Then I read the topic of the link (my back started to itch and tingle and shivers ran through my body). Ugh. I guess that just points back to some of the differences between self-injury and body modifications. For many, self-injury is a release or a punishment or a grounding tool, but the key part of that phrase is self. Scarification and body mods often require it to be done by another (hopefully competent and professional) person. It is also generally done for aesthetic purposes, and not for any emotional balancing. There’s no controlling the pain. There’s no private ritual to it. It’s just not done for the same reasons. And I doubt I could ever get anything more than a few piercings or my tattoos done. The thought of someone else carving into my flesh, or burning me in a manner to create significant scarring brings me back to one of my recurring nightmares as a little kid… I doubt I could ever get it done without some serious trauma symptoms developing after the fact. That, and I don’t think I could stand the pain… I feel no pain when I self-injure (if/when I do, I stop as soon as it starts).
One of the most hated questions I get from anyone is: were any of your piercings or tattoos done in lieu of self-injuring? My answer is always No. While I can see how it could possibly be a more socially acceptable method to getting a similar endorphin-rush, I have not experienced it ever having the same emotional benefits. It’s just not even in the same league for me. My body art is purely for aesthetic purposes (and because my tats all mean something to me). I never try to hide any of that. My scars on the other hand, I am embarrassed by. I hate when anyone notices them. It makes me very uncomfortable to have to show them to anyone or have anyone see them. At the time that I was actively cutting, I wouldn’t even change in front of my wife. To me, self-injury is a very private and personal thing. It serves a very specific purpose for which nothing else has been able to take over. Body art will never serve that purpose.