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Ask Selah R, M.S. LPC Your Own Question
Selah R, M.S. LPC
Selah R, M.S. LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 582
Experience:  Licensed Professional Counselor; over 13+ yrs exp working with adults, teens, & families/couples.
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Cutting helps me but reliving vicariously through movies,

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Cutting helps me but reliving vicariously through movies, COPS TV, helps me because it causes the fear but ends with ok I'm still alive. I need to get that "fix" of fear and survival on a regular basis to feel ok. Have you ever heard of this before?
Thank you for trusting JustAnswer with your important question.

Yes, it is actually fairly common among self-injurers and trauma survivors to have a vicarious emotional release by watching intense shows/movies. Some watch movies that trigger adrenaline to get the rush, some watch very sad movies to have an "acceptable" reason to cry, and some will even watch horror or gory movies to see blood to try to avoid cutting. Sometimes they choose to watch intense content as a way of validating their own unexpressed emotions (like watching an angry or violent movie because they feel like they aren't allowed to express anger), or because they want to distract or replace their current emotions (such as watching comedy movies to avoid feelings of depression).

I worked with a client who would watch a home makeover show so she should cry about what difficulties the families in need were facing, and cry at the joy and surprise the family feels when they get to see their new home. It allowed her to feel grief she was blocking (related to childhood trauma), but also allowed her to experience that sense of joy and amazement that "everything turned out for the better" that she hoped she'd experience in her own recovery/life.

But I've also worked with clients who have used violent or horror movies in order to trigger themselves (such as a survivor of sexual assault watching a movie involving rape). This can end up being another form of self-injury in some cases.

Hope that helps,
Selah
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