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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10547
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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A 4O-year old, male coworker has been exhibiting a

Customer Question

A 4O-year old, male coworker has been exhibiting a compulsive behavior of cutting paper using scissors whenever he experiences anxiety, when things are not going his way. He appears to be in his own world and dismisses people who are asking him work-related questions. Essentially, while he's cutting paper he does not want to be bothered. People who have seen this behavior are afraid that he'll physically harm others. In general, he's difficult to work with, does not take accountability when he errs, and does not shy away from blaming others. I am planning on writing a formal letter to our human resources department because I'm feeling unsafe, but would like to get an answer from the experts on the following question: Will his compulsive behavior of cutting paper lead to actual physical violence? What does it mean when he does this? What is the likelihood that he'll turn and harm others, if so?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

*This website DOES NOT constitute treatment and only provides information and advice. For treatment (therapy and/or medications) you must go to a licensed professional in your area. Please note that anything said here is not private or confidential, as this is a public forum.

Hello and thank you for your question. I understand your concern about this man and his behavioral issues, but I do want to let you know that a full and accurate risk assessment is not possible given that I have not evaluated this man face to face, so I can only speculate as to the possible risk assessment. Given what you described, his issue with cutting paper behavior appears to be a coping mechanism that helps him to calm down in the face of stressors or adversity. While this behavior may appear unusual, many people have coping behaviors like this such as chewing on finger nails, biting one's own tongue, tapping feet/fingers, etc....Coping behaviors like this are usually developed in childhood and persist to adulthood, but the reason why they start is unique to the individual, so I would have to know this man's childhood and when he first started to cut paper to understand the reason why he is doing this. Overall though the likelihood of his coping behavior of cutting paper to result in future violence is very low because he is not cutting paper to be aggressive, it is just a unique form of how he deals with stress and adversity. So given what you described and the little I know about this man, the likelihood of him committing future violence/harm to others is low.

I hope this answers your questions and gives you some guidance on this issue. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns as I am happy to assist and support you regarding this issue.

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Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

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