Many celebrities and other people of note have come out with their stories of self-harm, some have recovered, some have not. Even though they are scrutinized by the media, they have had the courage to reveal their struggles. Below is a brief description of each celebrity, and a bit about their self-injury.
Note: This is NOT meant as an “idolization” of these celebrities. I neither condemn nor condone their actions.
- Jessicka Addams (formerly Jessicka Fodera)
- Fiona Apple
- Emilie Autumn
- Drew Barrymore (not a self-injurer)
- Russell Brand
- Brody Dalle
- Johnny Depp
- Richey Edwards
- Colin Farrell
- Megan Fox
- Vincent van Gogh
- Darrell Hammond
- Kelly Holmes
- Angelina Jolie
- Alfred Kinsey
- Alexi Laiho
- Demi Lovato
- Courtney Love
- Marilyn Manson
- Shirley Manson
- Princess Diana
- Christina Ricci
- Jacoby Shaddix
- Amy Studt
- Mia Tyler
- Sid Vicious
- Amy Winehouse
- Elizabeth Wurtzel
Jessicka Addams, a singer most known for her bands Jack off Jill and Scarling, was born on October 23, 1975. She grew up in Florida as an only child. As a three-year-old she was enrolled in a local Montessori school, there she did well in art and music. Fodera’s mother later enrolled her in Horizon Elementary School’s gifted program, where she excelled in theater, art, and creative writing. Fodera found the school’s chorus group in middle school and found that she was as a good singer. She quickly became bored with the choir’s stifling standards and, by the time she entered high school, Fodera was “immersed in music, Goth culture, gay iconography, and feminist literature”. She would write the word “cunt” on her knuckles. When she was seventeen she decided to start her own band.
Fodera’s first few attempts at a band were a failure but by 1991 she had joined the first incarnation of Jack Off Jill. In 1992 the band began opening for Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. Jack Off Jill, made up of four women, became one of the most controversial underground bands during their time. Fodera would perform shocking on-stage antics, such as covering the audience with spit and blood and candy covered razors. In 1993 Marilyn Manson and Fodera were charged with misdemeanors after a concert in Jacksonville, Florida. Fodera began cutting herself on stage, which earned her the tile of “Patron saint of self injury”.
In 1997 Jack off Jill signed with Risk Records and created the full-length Sexless Demons and Scars to the mainstream public. While Jack Off Jill met with growing success Fodera began to question her commitment to the band. She and band mate, Robin Moulder, were disagreeing on where to take the band and her mentor, Marilyn Manson, were no longer speaking. She later made up with Manson and became part of the Marilyn Manson / Monster Magnet / Hole tour after Hole left the tour prematurely. Jack Off Jill released their second full-length album, Clear Hearts Grey Flowers in 1999. In 2000 Jack Off Jill officially disbanded.
In 2002 Scarling was formed and in April, 2004 Scarling released their debut album, Sweet Heart Dealer. Their second album, So Long, Scarecrow, was released on August 23, 2005. Jessika still continues to play and tour with Scarling.
On her website Fodera says of her self-injury when asked “Why do you cut yourself so much?”: “The question might be why did I cut myself so much? I initially started cutting myself at an early age out of frustration. Cutting tends to relieve anger. Many self-injurers like myself have enormous amounts of rage within and are sometimes afraid to express it outwardly, we injure ourselves as a way of venting these feelings without hurting others. When intense feelings built, I became overwhelmed and unable to deal with it. By causing pain, I could reduce the level of emotional stress to a bearable one. As a teenager it was an escape from the numbness many of those who self-injure say they do it in order to feel something, to know that they’re still alive. You obtain a certain feeling of euphoria. Continuing abusive patterns later in life became more force of habit an adrenal rush on stage rather then a cry for help.”
Fiona Apple, famous singer / songwriter, was raped outside of her mother’s apartment at the age of twelve. For years after her rape she would check her closets to make sure no one was hiding in the house and would be nervous around older men. And she still continues to have bad, violent dreams. During her teens and the months she spent making her album, Tidal, she suffered with an eating disorder. Frustrated at the misunderstanding by the media of her eating disorder she attempted to explain it in a 1998 Rolling Stone interview, “I definitely had an eating disorder. What was really frustrating for me was that everyone though I was anorexic, and I wasn’t. I was really depressed and self-loathing. For me, it wasn’t about being thin, it was about getting rid of the bait attached to my body. A lot of it came from the self-loathing that came from being raped at the point of developing my voluptuousness. I just thought that if you had a body and if you had anything on you that would be grabbed, it would be grabbed. So I did purposely get rid of it.” As a result of her eating disorder Fiona became extremely thin but the media wrote off her thinness as an attempt to “fit in.” After her “Criminal” video from her album, “Tidal,” came out she began gaining weight on purpose. She wanted to show the world that she didn’t care about being thin. In 1998 she said, “I mean, my plan is to gain enough weight that I can really be considered voluptuous, and do my ‘First Taste’ video. And I am preparing myself for what is going to happen. Because soon they will be saying that I’m fat. And it will hurt me.”
When Fiona read her first bad review for Tidal she began scratching her left wrist with the fingernails of her right hand. She scratched all the way up her arm, there are still some dark patches on her wrists, where she dug the deepest. Fiona said, “I have a little bit of a problem with that. It’s a common thing.” When asked if it made her feel better she simply replied, “It just makes you feel.” Fiona also sometimes bites her lips as hard as she can, sometimes until they bleed. “And it’ll be bleeding, and I can’t stop, because it almost feels so good when I bite my lip.” Trying to explain her actions she said, “It was never, like, ‘I am going to hurt myself and put myself in the hospital.’ …It is that I am going to give myself the pain that I need to feel to put the punctuation on this shit that’s going inside.”
Fiona would get frustrated and sad when she feel that people think she’s “crazy.” She says, “The most annoying thing for me to hear about myself is that I’m trying to make people have a pity party for me. Everything that I’ve gone through has been dramatized by the people who’ve written about it, not by me. I’m just saying, ‘This happened to me, this happened to a lot of people.’ Why should I hide shit? Why does that give people a bad opinion of me? It’s a reality. A lot of people do it. Courtney Love pulled me aside at a party and showed me her marks.”
Fiona Apple has become a happier and more confident individual since she talked so frankly about her past self-injury and eating disorder to Rolling Stone. Articles in several magazines and newspapers, including The Washington Post and USA Today, mention different new aspects of Fiona, such as her new take on life, a healthy weight gain and a new-found confidence in herself and her music. In a USA Today interview she said still gets upset when she reads a particularly bad article about herself or review of her music but does not mention any further self-injurious behavior as a result.
The violinist best known for her Opheliac album and her autobiographical novel, “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls,” which is a detailed account of bipolar disorder and the modern day psych ward in which she stayed after a suicide attempt. She compares and contrasts the modern day ward with the Victorian insane asylums. The chapters of the diary are culled directly from her own diary. One chapter of the novel is called “Cutting Diary” and contains several pictures of self-injury and an account of dealing with self-injury that alternates between handwriting and type. The words written underneath the chapter title are “Why am I not ashamed?”
“Taking my first good, hard look around the place I have just learned might be my home for quite some time, my eyes are instantly drawn to a long, thin string hanging from the wall beside my bed. Above this string is a sign reading “PULL ROPE TO CALL NURSE.” My obvious thought is that the string could easily be used as a weapon of self-destruction, and, if I can’t have a pencil, then what the fuck? Imagining for a moment that it could hold my weight, I envision myself knotting the string into a noose and pulling it down around my neck. Then, when the nurse is called as a result of my “pulling the rope,” she will enter the room to find my body dangling ironically from the string. That, in a place like this, is pure comedy gold”.
One complete page of the “Cutting Diaries” says “pain, pain, pain, pain” in type over and over again with the words “If you’re depressed, death is an upgrade” handwritten at the top.
On Emilie’s Opheliac album the song Liar contains references to self-injury:
I’m hurting you for your own good
I’d die for you, you know I would
I’d give up all my wealth to buy you back the toy you never sold
I want to mix our blood and put it in the ground
So you can never leave
I want to win your trust, your faith, your heart
You’ll never be decieved
Liar, liar, liar, liar
Liar, liar, liar, liar
Liar, liar, liar, liar
Liar, liar, liar, liar
I want you to heal you pretty sweet
Emilie, even if not ashamed of her past with self-injury, does not advocate it. Her novel comes complete with a trigger warning saying, “This story is not meant to educate and entertain. The author does not advocate suicide or self-harm of any kind in any way whatsoever. If you are suffering from a mental illness and require counseling, please contact a certified professional. If you feel that you are in immediate danger, please call your local emergency hotline.”
Drew Barrymore has been removed from this page because only one brief sentence in a single article claimed that she self-injures. Further searches for more evidence of this have been inconclusive.
The English comedian and actor opened up about self-injury in his memoir, “My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up.” He revealed that he had self-injured as a teen, saying, “I get fixated when I’m bleeding – I can see why they went in for blood-letting in the medieval times because it makes you feel a bit better. When I cut myself, the drama of it calms me down.”
In 1995 when he was at the Drama Centre London he was expelled in his last term of his final year for smashing a glass over his head and lacerating his chest and arms with it after his performance was criticized.
In a “Time Out Chicago” interview after being asked if he’s ever been diagnosed with a mental illness Russell said, “Yes, depression and manic depression and, more latterly, bipolar. Attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity. It’s difficult to know which of those diagnoses are correct because most of the time I was very young and on drugs.”
Russell is a former heroin and sex addict and a recovering alcoholic. He also struggled with bulimia as a teen. He’s shown an interest in the Hare Krishna movement and chanting the Hare Krishna mantra is part of his recovery from drug addiction.
Australian Brody Dalle, frontwoman of the Southern Californian punk-pop band The Distillers, was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne Australia on January 1, 1979. She is a woman both loathed and loved by those on the punk scene and is known for her powerful voice that has been likened to screaming.
As a teenager Brody used to write poetry about darker subjects, including rape and rage. Her biological father was kicked out of the home for physical abuse when she was a young girl and the man who her mother married helped aid in her feeling like an outsider in her own home. Frequent fights with her mother increased the feelings of alienation. She also felt like an outside at school. At age 15 her mother sent her to an all-girls Catholic school to try to get her to conform, basically to tame her, but it did not work well. ‘For some reason my mom decided to send me there ‘cause I was a young, wild, promiscuous teenager. [It was] pretty horrifying for me. I’m pro-choice and I was in Catholic schools where I couldn’t debate about that. It wasn’t acceptable ‘cause we were ‘children of God.’ It was bullshit.” Brody said in a SF Weekly article, “Around 13, I started getting really angry and hating my mom–I mean, really hating my mom. She hated me too. We ended up strangling each other in the kitchen. I was always an angry kid, so I started running away and doing [angry] teenage girl stuff–cutting myself, getting high, not going to school.”
In the mid-’90s Brody started with a band, Sourpuss. She met her ex-husband, Tim Armstrong, during a gig at Australia’s Somersault Festival. In 1997 she moved to Los Angeles with her husband and started The Distillers. They released their self-titled debut album. When their next album Sing Sing Death House was released Brody had found her voice and the music itself was raw and powerful. Social issues of all kinds were covered in the songs, including some of the personal issues she has dealt with in the past.
Brody talks about her childhood best friend in one of her songs. In LA Weekly she says, ‘Gerti wasn’t anorexic or bulimic, and she wasn’t addicted to drugs, but she cut. Yeah, she cut herself. I’ve known girls who are anorexic, too. Someone real close to me now is anorexic, and it’s just thrown her family into hell. It’s so scary, so sad that some women feel that they have to starve themselves, and this woman I know, she knows she has a problem and she just can’t stop. I see these girls, they’re 14 years old, taller than me and weigh half what I weigh.”
Brody tries to reach out to kids who are going through rough times, kids in need. While she has some themes of self-destruction in her music she no longer cuts herself.
“If I cut, I won’t look like that
If I cut, If I cut,
I won’t feel like this shit”
“Sick of It All,” The Distillers
Johnny Depp, an actor well known for his portrayal of eccentric characters in such movies as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Pirates of the Caribbean, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1963. When he was young he was also know for his “bad boy” behavior. In a 1999 Avantgarde interview Johnny said, “As a teenager I was so insecure. I was the type of guy that never fitted in because he never dared to choose. I was convinced I had absolutely no talent at all. For nothing. And that thought took away all my ambition too.” Even today he still has feelings of insecurity about himself. In 1999 he said, “My self-image it still isn’t that alright. No matter how famous I am, no matter how many people go to see my movies, I still have the idea that I’m that pale no-hoper that I used to be. A pale no-hoper that happens to be a little lucky now. Tomorrow it’ll be all over, then I’ll have to go back to selling pens again.” During his teens he had drinking, smoking and doing drugs. There were episodes of petty theft and vandalism. He dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen so that he could concentrate on being a musician. He continued to have problems with drugs and drinking into his twenties.
Johnny has a series of seven or eight scars on his left forearm where he has cut himself with a knife on different occasions to commemorate various moments or rights of passage in his life. In a Talk magazine interview he said, “It was really just whatever [times when he hurt himself]–good times, bad times, it didn’t matter. There was no ceremony. It wasn’t like ‘Okay, this just happened, I have to go hack a piece of my flesh off.’” In a 1993 Details magazine interview Johnny explained his self-injury, “My body is a journal in a way. It’s like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist.” Johnny has several tattoos, such as the one that says ‘Wino Forever’ (used to be ‘Winona Forever” when he was dating the famous actress, Winona Ryder).
Johnny Depp has quit doing drugs and no longer drinks heavily. In a 2001 Movie Star Magazine interview he talked about how he is currently the happiest he has ever been, “My upbringing made me as I am now. But I can become merry and happy at once. There were many years I was feeling at a loss about my life or how I grew up. I couldn’t understand what is right or what is precious. At that time, I was so miserable and self-defeating. I was feeling angry with various things. My anger came up to the surface then. I don’t say such tendency has disappeared. Even now there are anger and the dark side in myself. But it’s the first time I’ve been so close to the light.”
Richey James Edwards, a musician who was the celebrity most up front with his self-injurious behavior, was born on December 22, 1967. He grew up under his grandmother’s care in Blackwood until he was thirteen because his parents could not afford to take care of him. He joined the band, “The Manic Street Preachers,” after they had funded their first single, “Suicide Alley.”
While in the band Richey suffered from deepening alcoholism and anorexia, he also went through long bouts of depression and insomnia, and self-injury. He had suffered from self-injury since he was a teenager. On May 15, 1991 Richey carved “4 Real” on his forearm with a razor blade. The wound required seventeen stitches, and was done while Richey was involved in a discussion with an NME Live Reviews Editor at the Time. The next day he called and apologized and explained his behavior, “I tried talking to Steve for an hour to explain ourselves [The Manic Street Preachers]…I didn’t abuse him or insult him. I just cut myself. To show that we are no gimmick, that we are pissed off. That we are for real.” By the end of 1993 he had started stubbing cigarettes out on his arm and was drinking heavily. Also, at an April 1994 concert in Bangkok, Thailand, he appeared with his chest slashed open by knives a fan had sent him. In July of 1994, after having been missing for forty-eight hours and drinking and self-injuring during this time, Richey entered a rehabilitation clinic and stayed ten weeks.
On February 1, 1995 leaves the Embassy Hotel he was staying at, stopped at his Cardiff apartment, and disappeared, leaving behind his passport and credit cards. He was reported missing and his abandoned car was found on the Severn Bridge, a place notorious for suicides. Police presumed he was dead by the time summer came around. People still wonder if Richey is still alive and occasionally there are “sightings” of him.
“When I cut myself I feel so much better. All the little things that might have been annoying me suddenly seem so trivial because I’m concentrating on the pain. I’m not a person who can scream and shout so this is my only outlet. It’s all done very logically.”
(Siamese Animal Men - NME)
“It’s about people who take their frustration out on everyone around them. I never raise my voice. Cutting myself or hurting myself is the way I deal with anger.”
(‘Manic Frustration’ - Kerrang!)
“I think it’s quite common. It’s on the increase. It’s all about self-discipline. Like, self-obsession is connected completely with self-loathing, and it’s the same with, um, if you’ve got a weight problem. It’s all about… finding some worth in yourself, knowing that you’ve got the discipline to do it, and knowing that other people maybe can’t do it. And it’s also, I think, really connected to the fact that you almost feel, like, silent, you have no voice, you’re mute, there’s just no, you’ve got no option’ Even if you could express yourself nobody would listen anyway’ Things that go on inside you, there’s no other way to get rid of them.
I mean, I’ve been in clinics where there’s been lots of people who’ve cut themselves and abused themselves, physically and violently. It’s pretty common, it’s clichéd amongst people who do it that when they do it they don’t actually feel any pain. You know, even when you’re maybe having stitches in your body and things have been done to you, it doesn’t matter. You’re in a frame of mind where it really does not hurt.
You know, maybe a few days later you get a certain amount of pain as the skin starts to heal, but when you’re in that frame of mind it’s really natural. It’s the only logical thing to do. Otherwise you feel you could almost do something to another person, and that is something that I would - again, like I said, I would never ever take it out on somebody else. Maybe the things I do, it’s more concerned with the fact that I don’t like myself very much, and so I would not expect anyone else to judge me that highly; so if I discipline myself I can feel relatively content with my mental state and my physical state. If I can balance those two then I feel OK, and I’m not really worried what people think about me. Because I judge myself harsher, and on more strict terms, than they ever could probably. I - I think. Mm.” (Villa 65 - Dutch Radio)
“Self abuse is anti-social, aggression still natural.”
“I eat and I dress and I wash and I still can say thank you
Puking - shaking - sinking I still stand for old ladies
Can’t shout, can’t scream, hurt myself to get pain out”
(Manic Street Preachers, ‘Yes’)
“Roses in the hospital
Stub cigarettes out on my arm
Roses in the hospital
Want to feel something of value
Roses in the hospital
Nothing really makes me happy
Roses in the hospital
Heroin is just too trendy
Roses in the hospital
Try to pull my finger nails out
Roses in the hospital
I want to cling to something soft
Roses in the hospital
Progressing like a constant war
Roses in the hospital
There’s no one to feel ashamed for
)Manic Street Preachers, ‘Roses in the Hospital’)
“It’s about people who hurt themselves in order to concentrate, or just to feel something.”
(explanation of the song, ‘Roses In The Hospital’)
“Scratch my leg with a rusty nail, sadly it heals.”
(Manic Street Preachers, ‘Die in the Summertime’)
“Get some pain and I feel alive - born to end
Close my eyes overdose on hell - born to end
Get run over by no direction - born to end
Breathing dead and I’m born to end - born to end
(Manic Street Preachers, ‘Born To End’)
Colin was born on May 31, 1976 in Castleknock, Dublin, Ireland. This famous actor has starred in a number of films and has gained quite a fan following. He has been named a bad boy in Hollywood because of his flippant attitude towards drink, drugs and sex.
Colin said to GQ of school, “I was terrible in school. I really didn’t listen a day. I was just so uninterested. I had no grand master plan. I just never studied and didn’t do homework, cheated in exams every chance I got. I just didn’t give a fuck.” He was the youngest of four children and had it easier than his older siblings. He took great advantage of this. Colin said that was the reason he “ended up fucking earlier, and drinking earlier, and doing drugs earlier.” At age thirteen he had already been drinking and he has described two drinking episodes that resulted in vomiting and “the spins.” He smoked his first spliff when he was fifteen and first took Ecstasy when he was sixteen. That was the start in experimenting with other drugs. He would lock the door of his bedroom and he would do speed, coke, ecstasy, or whatever other drug he had.
At sixteen, because over twenty boys at school looking to hurt him his parents moved him to Gormanston boarding school. Colin, who often fought in school, did not adhere to the school’s strict discipline. He often skipped classes and would spend lunch drinking at a local pool hall. At seventeen he was expelled because he threw a supervisor against a wall and threatened him because the supervisor grabbed him.
As a teenager Colin tried to get into the entertainment world. He signed up for a local modeling agency and got small bits on television. One part was modeling a G-string on Irish television. He volunteered because, “That was a pill, you know. Two pills if you’re buying off the right person…” Colin and a friend later tried to get to America but were unable to so they opted for Australia. He got his first role in a play but returned to Ireland only ten months into his stay. After his return from Australia he was drifting and was completely depressed. Later on he would feel that this difficulty was self-created. He stopped talking to siblings and eventually had a sort of breakdown in front of his mother. A doctor told him he had to stop the drugs so he stopped both the drugs and drinking at that time. The doctor put him on Librium and some Antabuse pills that would make him sick if he drank. He stopped drinking for eleven months.
In GQ Colin said of himself, “I’m a hair puller-outer.” When he was thirteen or fourteen he tugged out the whole part of hair near his forehead, strand by strand. “What do you call it? Trichomania or something. There is some generic psychological term for it. I loved the sensation.” He liked the little jabs of pain of the hair as it was pulled out. “Yeah, the little sensation. Just, yeah… right before it’s left the follicle, right - that moment, right before it’s left. And then the… duuukkkk. I just fucking love it.”
Best known for her roles in Jennifer’s Body and Transformers, the movie star revealed in a Rolling Stone interview in 2009 that she used to cut herself but she downplayed is as a “phase”. In the interview she said, “Yeah,[…] but I don’t want to elaborate. I would never call myself a cutter. Girls go through different phases when they’re growing up, when they’re miserable and do different things, whether it’s an eating disorder or they dabble in cutting.” When asked if she’d ever had an eating disorder her non-answer was, “If I did talk about it, I’d be taking on a role-model status, and I’d have to choose my words very carefully, and I’d have to make sure I reveal it in a specific way, and I don’t want to do it.”
In the same interview she talked about her low self-esteem, saying, “I’m really insecure about everything […] I never think I’m worthy of anything… I have a sick feeling of being mocked all the time. I have a lot of self-loathing. […] Self-loathing doesn’t keep me from being happy. But that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle. I am very vulnerable. But I can be aggressive, hurtful, domineering and selfish, too. I’m emotionally unpredictable and all over the place. I’m a control freak.”
The Dutch post-Impressionist painter still famous so many years later for his work suffered from what has been thought of as epileptic attacks or bipolar disorder or a variety of other potential diseases. It is still a topic of speculation amongst historians. What is known is that he suffered intense anxiety and mental health issues. He sometimes hallucinated, his insomnia was particularly terrible, he suffered fits. van Gogh was known for his excess in everything: drinking, smoking, coffee, fasting to the point of malnutrition.
His registered symptoms at the asylum he stayed at were: “poor digestion and a bad stomach, hallucinations, nightmares, stupor, absent mindedness, impotence, insomnia, and anxiety.” He started mentioning suicide in his letters to his brother towards the end of his life.
van Gogh’s famous act of self-harm was the severing of his left ear (it is unknown to what degree) with a razor, which led to severe hemorrhaging. He was said to have bandaged his wound and then sent the severed ear to a brothel he and a friend he’d had a falling out with, Gauguin, frequented. A local newspaper reported that van Gogh left the ear in the care of a prostitute and told her to guard the ear carefully. Gauguin had a different account which was that van Gogh left he ear in the car of a doorman to as a memento for Gauguin.
van Gogh died at age thirty-seven from a gunshot wound that most people feel was self-inflicted though there was no gun found on him.
The SNL star best known for spoofing celebrities like Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Sean Connery revealed on CNN – ’SNL’s’ Darrell Hammond reveals dark past of abuse – that he was brutally abused by his mother through stabbings, beatings, and electric shocks throughout his childhood. This led to severe mental health issues, including self-injury. He revealed in the interview that he began to self-injure at the age of nineteen. The diagnoses thrown at him varied and included schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He was put on sometimes up to seven medications at once which he says were “soul-killing” but also says that they gave him stability. Darrell says that he was medicated while performing on SNL and that acts of cutting took place backstage, also that one time he was led away in a straitjacket. With the publication of his book “God If You’re Not Up There, I’m Fucked” Darrell has made his mental health troubles public and says that he’s not hiding anymore. ”I don’t feel ashamed of falling down, because I got hit by a Mack truck,” he said in the interview. “The fact is, I kept trying to get back up, and then I did.”
Kelly Holmes, an English athlete most known for her winning gold medals in the 800 meters and 1500 meters in the 2004 Summer Olympics, was born on April 19, 1970. Holmes attended Hugh Christie Comprehensive School in Tonbridge at the age of twelve. She started training for athletics and joined the Tonbridge Athletics Club. There she was coached by David Arnold and later won the English schools 1500 meter title at the junior and senior levels. Her hero at this time was British middle distance runner, Sebastian Coe. At age 18 Holmes joined the British Army as a lorry driver in the Women’s Royal Army Corps. She was later transferred in 1992 to the Adjutant General’s Corps as a physical trainer after the corps disbanded. During this time she also became British Army judo champion and in army athletic events once competed in the men’s 800 meters because it was thought that to run in the women’s event would be too embarrassing for other competitors. She competed in other events and won.
Holmes decided to become an athlete again after watching Lisa York complete in the 1992 Summer Olympics on television. She had competed against York previously and had won. For some time she kept her job in the army and also engaged in athletics until 1997 when increased funding allowed her to become a full time athlete.
Holmes won the English national 800 meters in 1993 and the 1500 meters in 1994. She won the gold in the 1500 meters at the 1994 Commonwealth Games. She also broke United Kingdom’s 800 meter and 1000 meter record. Holmes did suffer several injuries through the course of her athletic career, which caused her to lose. At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester she won the 1500 meter gold and at the European Championships in Munich, Holmes won the bronze medal in the 800 meters.
In 2004 Holmes won in the 800 meter and 1500 meter Summer Olympics in Athens. She had arrived there without any of the injuries that had plagued her in earlier years and she became the seventh British woman to win an athletics gold and the first British woman to win two Olympic gold medals. Holmes was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honors List of 2004. The Queen presented her with the honor at Buckingham Palace on March 9, 2005. Holmes competed in her final race in the United Kingdom on August 21, 2005 and on December 6, 2005 Holmes announced her retirement from athletics, stating, “I actually knew in my heart and mind that it was the right choice and now I feel I can relax and be myself.”
Holmes trained in 2003 for the 2004 Summer Olympics at a French training camp and suffered several leg injuries. She became depressed and began to cut herself with a pair of scissors. In a News of the World newspaper interview she stated, “I made one cut for every day that I had been injured.” During this time period she had also considered suicide at least once and later sought help from a doctor, who diagnosed her with clinical depression. Anti-depressants would affect her performance so she used herbal serotonin tablets.
While training in 2003 for the 2004 Summer Olympics at a French training camp, Holmes suffered a number of leg injuries. Falling deep into depression, she began cutting her wrists and chest over a two-month period. “I made one cut for every day that I had been injured”, Holmes stated in an interview with News of the World newspaper. At least once she considered suicide, stating in the same interview, “I even thought briefly, just for a moment, about pressing the scissors harder in my wrists.” About her depression she said, “I thought I was cursed. It’s the lowest I’ve ever, ever been.” To draw away attention from the scars caused by her self-injury she would claim she had hurt herself while training.
In the British Sunday newspaper she told of her first self-injurious experience, “I’d locked myself in the bathroom and turned on the taps so nobody could hear me crying. That’s when I saw a pair of scissors. I picked them up, opened them and started to cut my left arm. I made one cut for every day I’d been injured. With each one I felt I was punishing myself but at the same time I felt a sense of release that drove me to do it again and again. I knew deep inside that I wouldn’t go any further. The whole episode was nothing more than a cry of despair.”
In the same 2005 British Sunday newspaper interview she says, “Now I don’t think I’ll ever get to that stage again because I’ve achieved what I’ve always wanted. I strove to be the best and not give up on it.”
Angelina Jolie, an actress who has won an Academy Award and starred in films such as “Girl Interrupted”, “Tomb Raider,” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” was born in 1975 to famous parents, both actors. She grew up in Los Angeles and studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute. She appeared in five student films for her filmmaker brother, James Haven Voight, as well as in music videos for the Rolling Stones, Meat Loaf, the Lemonheads, and Lenny Kravitz. Angelina had a short modeling career with Finesse Modeling Agency, in which she appeared in numerous fashion layouts. In 1996, at the age of twenty, she got married to Jonny Lee Miller, a British actor, while wearing a white shirt with her fiance’s name written on it in her blood. The two got divorced two years later. In May 2000 she got married to Billy Bob Thornton.
In June 2001 Rolling Stone she said that during her very early teens she started “thinking about not wanting to be around. It was when the reality of life set in, the reality of surviving.” Also, Angelina used to hurt herself during her early teens but stopped around the age of sixteen. She explained in a 2000 Maxim article, “You’re young, you’re crazy, you’re in bed and you’ve got knives. So shit happens.” But in 1999 Access Hollywood interview she explained it more in-depth, “I was..trying to feel something….I was looking at different things..thinking romantically about…about blood. I really hurt myself,” and, “I was nearly in the hospital. I nearly cut my jugular vein.” She also said in the same interview, “I was just….a kid. I was like 13, And, I was saying that it is not something that is cool. Its not cool. And I understand that it is a cry for help…”
In a 2000 Jane interview she said, “This person asked me about cutting myself when they saw a scar. I’m very open, but because of that, people think that they know everything about me, and, actually, they don’t know anything. I say things that other people might go through. That’s what artists should do - throw things out there and not be perfect and not have answers for anything and see if people understand. But this person made the cutting sound interesting, like it was something I do now. [For the record, she did, but doesn’t now, and doesn’t endorse it.] And then I met somebody who said they’d seen movies of mine and then showed me where they had cut themselves. I had to explain, first off, not to do that. But it made me really fucking angry at the people who represent me in a way that would get that person to do that and show me. I don’t understand why people would want to use something so damaging. It’s like, let’s make me look ‘cool’ and worry a lot of people in my family.” Angelina has the Japanese symbol for “death” tattooed on her shoulder, and the Latin words, ‘Quod me nutrit me destruit,’ on her stomach, meaning “What nourishes me also destroys me.”
Angelina Jolie no longer hurts herself as a way of coping but she freely admits to using knives during sex play. Article and interviews indicate that she is a much happier and more content individual than she was earlier in her life.
Alfred Charles Kinsey, most known for being the author of the first mass scientific survey of human sexual behavior in the United States, was born on June 23, 1894. He was the son of Alfred S. Kinsey, an engineering instructor at Stevens Institute of Technology. Kinsey - the son - went to Bowdoin College and graduated as a Bachelor of Science in 1916. Kinsey was an instructor in biology and zoology at Harvard, while working to get the Doctor of Science degree there. Beginning in 1920 became a specialist in plant and insect life and worked as an assistant professor in Indiana, later becoming a full professor of zoology in 1929. In 1942 he set up the Institute for Sex Research, Inc. with the help of Rockefeller Foundation funds. He began his famous statistical study of human sexual behavior in men and women in the United States.
Kinsey’s first book, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male”, was published in 1948 to a mass of publicity. The book was 800 pages and sold about 500,000 copies at the price of $6.50. Discussion of the book and some of its shocking findings went on for several years in the media and books discussing Kinsey’s book were written. Kinsey put all the royalties from the book back into his research. In 1953 the sequel, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female”, was published.
Kinsey and his scientific conclusions on sexuality were both attacked and defended. Some of these attackers included famous psychologists of the time, including Dr. Karl A. Menninger. Others were civics groups like the National Council of Women, and a committee of the House of Representatives. Kinsey claimed that religious groups pressured his sponsors to withdraw their support from his Institute for Sex Research. Two years before his death the Rockefeller Foundation, one of his major supporters, withdrew its aid and his institute was destined to close.
Kinsey was a sadomasochist and many people throw the word homosexual around when it comes to him, though not relevant when it comes to his deviancy from “normal” sexual practices. It’s been said that he pushed his wife and fellow researchers a the Kinsey Institute into different types of sexual deviancy, which he filmed. He would compulsively try every type of sexual deviancy which he found.
It was not revealed until later that he had engaged in compulsive genital self-injury, including self-circumcision. In the 2005 movie Kinsey Kinsey self-injures in the bathroom after a loss of research funding. His fellow researchers and his biographers say that he had been self-injuring for years because of his sexual deviancy that had led him into all sorts of bizarre sex practices.
Alexi Laiho, the vocals and lead guitarist for the melodic death metal band Children of Bodom has stated before in interviews that he used to cut himself and has dealt with other means of self-harm since then such as alcoholism.
In a December 2007 interview he was asked about the name of his album Blooddrunk. He stated, “The song ‘Blooddrunk’, for example, is about when you’re addicted to spill around blood and this doesn’t necessarily mean stupid shit like cutting yourself what I used to do. I mean, I don’t do that shit anymore but I used to fucking cut myself, you know? But it’s also in other ways, like within the last two years I have fucking hurt myself more than ever and I figured that I have some fucking addiction to hurt myself so bad (laughs) and that’s what the song is about.” In an interview with UK’s Metal Hammer magazine about a month later he says that he used to cut himself “ten years ago” which would be around 1998 or earlier. The specific quote is, “[Blooddrunk] about being addicted to spilling your own blood. When I was younger, ten years ago I used to cut myself and all that shit. It’s not necessarily just about cutting yourself but about other things you do to yourself and you don’t know why.” In a January 2007 interview with Lucemfero he again talks about Blooddrunk and it’s title song, “I think the whole topic of that song revolves around self-destruction, and just somewhat being addicted to hurting yourself. That’s what it’s about.”
The same 2007 Metal Hammer article talks about Alexi’s past. Alexi states that he had been depressed from the age of ten and that that while his childhood was “ok” by the time he was seventeen or eighteen he was cutting himself and dealing with serious suicidal ideation. He sees the potential risk he put himself at and that he could potentially have cut a tendon or otherwise have disabled himself in a way that could have prevented him from playing guitar. Self-harm was a means of dealing with the suicidal ideation, relieving the pressure. Alex discusses his suicide attempt at the time, an overdose on pills and whiskey, which lead to his stomach being pumped and time in a psychiatric hospital. He also talks about another hospitalization as a result of suffering a nervous breakdown. That hospitalization lead him to realize he never wanted to be hospitalized like that ever again and to accomplish that he had to get better. At the time of the interview he says of his recovery, “Yeah, I guess I’m pretty much better now.”
“Well, I used to cut myself and I was aware of what I was doing. I don’t do that shit anymore but I did used to do that shit when I was 17 and 18. But now, looking back, it looks like the stupidest thing ever, but back in the day I just didn’t care. I mean if I’d have cut a tendon I wouldn’t be sitting here now because I wouldn’t be able to play guitar, or if I had hit a vein …”
“I genuinely wished I was dead. For example, when I was in the car, I would wish that I’d crash and die. One time - and I guess it could have been a cry-for-help suicide attempt - I popped a load of pills and drank a bottle of whiskey. Obviously I didn’t die but I was taken to a psychiatric hospital and had my stomach pumped. At least I guess so. I don’t really remember that much because I was so out of it, so heavily sedated.”
Henkka Seppälä, the bassist of Children of Bodom, says that he didn’t realize Alexi was depressed until he saw his cuts from self-harm and even then didn’t take it too seriously until he head he’d been hospitalized for mental health issues. He also talked of Alexi’s violent mood swings but said in the interview, “But since he was taken into hospital and taken care of he has been getting better all the time and he is a totally different person nowadays to the one he was over 10 years ago.”
While Alexi may no longer cut himself he still battles self-destructive demons. He has been hospitalized more than once – including in 2013 – for stomach issues relating to drinking. He’s had to cancel shows and has even stated that he needs to “slow down” his drinking habit.
Demi Lovato, best known for being a Disney star and part of the Camp Rock films, began her acting career at age seven. Besides being an actress she has a successful singing career. In an interview with Ellen Degeneres Demi talked about her experiences with bullying in the 7th grade after becoming a target of a “hate petition.” Demi says of this time, “I went through a really hard time at school with girls bullying me. I blamed it on myself at the time, but looking back I guess it was out of jealousy.” The bullying seems to have been the catalyst leading to her problems with self-injury and an eating disorder. It got to the point that she, in frustration, asked her mother to have her home-schooled and, by the next week, they were out buying home-schooling materials.
Demi has been outspoken against bullying and created a famous Youtube video, Standing Up Against Bullying.
In People in September 2010 she shared about her issues with body image. She told People that she has a tattoo that says, “You make me beautiful.” She also shared that she has “fat days” and wants to feel more comfortable and confident.
On November 1, 2010, Demi entered inpatient treatment for what was said to be an eating disorder and self-injury, according to People. In late January, 2011 she left treatment and made herself pretty scarce to her fans.
In March 7, 2011 Demi created a video thanking her fans for their support. In the video she said, ”Hey guys, it’s me, Demi. I wanted to send you guys a message ‘cause I know that you’ve seen me out and about and I wanted to let you know that I am back and home. Welcome to my home. But I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the support that you’ve given me along the way.” About the support the received and her personal experienced she also said, ”I read [all your support] and your support is what got me through this. So I couldn’t be more thankful for everything you guys sent me. The journey that I’ve been on has been very, very difficult over the past few months. I was dealing with issues that I know not only girls just my age but girls of all ages are dealing with. I hope to one day raise awareness of everything, so that I can help people too, just like you guys helped me through this rough time.
I can’t tell you how much light you brought into my life in probably the darkest time of my life,” she continued. “Without you guys I wouldn’t be here today.”
Until then it was mostly paparazzi-taken pictures of self-injury scars/wounds and “close sources,” not Demi herself. Now she’s putting her life back together and getting back to work.
On April 19, 2011 Demi opened up in an ABC News interview. She revealed that she had had an unhealthy relationship with food since she was young, beginning with compulsive overeating at eight years old. The bullying during her early teens turned the overeating into bulimia, which alternated with severe restricting. ”I developed an eating disorder, and that’s kind of what I’ve been dealing with ever since,” she said. Her family was aware of her issues with the eating disorder from early on but unaware that she had, at age eleven, begun cutting her wrists as a way to cope with her feelings.
“It was a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body,” she told ABC News. “I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were some times where my emotions were just so built up, I didn’t know what to do. The only way that I could get instant gratification was through an immediate release on myself.”
Demi self-injured throughout her teens but it didn’t come to a head until the summer of 2011 when she was doing the concert tour with the Jonas Brothers for “Camp Rock 2”. She lost control and hit one of the backup dancers. Demi says she had been losing her voice because of purging, had been performing concerts on an empty stomach, was self-medicating, and not taking her medication. Her family and management team held an intervention and she quit the tour and went to a treatment center for women with eating disorders and addiction issues.
Demi says treatment changed her life and that she relearned how to feel and picked up new, positive ways of coping. ”The real reason why I’m sitting down with you,” she said in the interview, “is to open up the eyes of so many young girls, that it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Courtney Love, outspoken and often times controversial singer and actress, was born in San Francisco in 1965. Her parents, who have been living a hippie lifestyle, bitterly divorced when Courtney was only five. As a child she was diagnosed as being autistic and went to therapy for several years. She went wild during her teenage years and was expelled from school at the age of fourteen for drinking alcohol, had many conflicts with teachers and had several minor shoplifting offenses. At the age of sixteen she dropped out of high school. Courtney formed her band, Hole, in 1989 with her friend, Eric Erlandsen. She married Kurt Cobain, the lead singer for Nirvana, in early 1992. Kurt killed himself in 1994. There was some controversy because there are rumors that Courtney killed him, she has denied it.
Courtney went through a period of self-injury; she would cut herself on stage.” While talking about Kurt’s overdoses in a 1995 SPIN interview she said, “Some people OD. I’ve never ODed, ever. I’ve gotten really fucking blasto, but instead of ODing, I chatter and start talking too much, screaming and running around naked and getting hysterical, cutting my arms, you know, crazy shit. Breaking windows. But I never have fallen on the floor blue.”
She said in a 2000 SPIN interview, “I have many [self-destructive bones], and I’ve broken a bunch. I think self-destructiveness is given a really bad rap. I think that self-destructiveness can also mean self-reflection, can mean poetic sensibility, it can mean empathy, it can mean a hedonism and a libertarianism and a lack of judgement.”
Marilyn Manson was born in Canton, Ohio to Episcopalian parents, a smothering mother and a volatile father suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As a child he was terrified of the apocalypse and the Antichrist, fears introduced by a grade-school teacher. Manson described himself as an adolescent “worm” with no self-esteem, surrounded by a dysfunctional family and hypocritical, emotionally abusive peers at school and church. As a teenager, Manson stole, and later experimented with black magic, drugs and rock music. Later, after he had formed his band, he would perform bizarre on-stage antics, abused drugs, self-injured, and did other self-destructive things.
Manson first cut himself when he was in the ninth grade during a class, he dug into his forearms with a penknife. Later in life he would cut himself on stage and scar his skin. He had about 450 scars at the publishing of his book, “Long Hard Road out of Hell.” Some of his fans have, unfortunately, decided to imitate him. In particular, two girls would follow Manson and would carve the words “Marilyn” and “Manson” on each other’s chests and would show up at the concert in the front row with blood from their wounds dripping down their tank tops.
In a 1997 Guitar School interview he stated that he had been hospitalized for depression and scarification [self-injury] but didn’t comment further on that. In a 1998 Rolling Stone interview he answered some questions regarding his self-injury, both onstage and offstage. About self-injury he said, “I think that’s all a form of wanting to let go, of wanting to get out,” and, “It’s not something easily described or understood.” About the differences between his onstage self-injury and offstage self-injury he said, “I think onstage it was more me trying to show people my pain, and offstage it was just feeling it, period.”
In a 1998 Jane interview he said, “I would put myself through a lot of physical pain with drugs or masochistic behavior. And that was something that transformed me, really. I find myself being a different person. Yet no therapy was involved. I’ve tried a couple of times, but I find that self-examination works better for me than trying to explain it to someone else.”
Shirley Manson, the sexy, red-haired singer of Garbage, was an angry child. She was teased, tormented, and even beaten-up by her classmates because of her looks. Classmates called her names such as “posh,” “bloodhound,” and “frog-eyed” because of her red hair and green eyes. As she grew older she became unhappy and violent, and planned to drop out of high school when she turned sixteen. A certain teacher began ridiculing her until, “Until, I think, everyone in that school thought I was less than human. I felt ugly, weak, overwhelmed - I couldn’t imagine being capable of doing anything. I certainly never thought I could be in a band. This was a dream it didn’t even occur to me to dream about.” (1998, Select Magazine) Shirley took up smoking, boys and drinking, she began using drugs on a regular basis during her late teens. In 1995, Shirley and her band released the self-titled, “Garbage,” their debut album, which became an instant hit. The lyrics of her songs are well known for revealing her true emotions and feelings.
Shirley Manson has a low self-esteem and hates the way she looks. In a 1998 Select interview she said, “I feel disgusting. I could take a knife to my throat for the way I look. Can someone just put a bin or a bag or a fucking bomb on my head?” As a teenager her feelings of weakness and of being overwhelmed were manifested in cutting, she would snip the safety guards off Bic razors and would cut up her arms. When she was a teenager she used to carry a sharp object in the laces of her boots and would cut herself with it whenever she felt stressed, anxious or depressed; she hid the scars by wearing long pants and boots. She explained in a The Herald article the experience of self-injuring, “I wouldn’t say that cutting was pleasurable, but there is a sense of euphoria that follows cutting yourself. The quick pinch of pain and the sight of blood snaps you back to the surface and you start to appreciate being alive.”
Shirley Manson no longer self-injures but still feels the urge from time to time. In 1998 she almost relapsed during her European Tour, in which she felt homesick and tired of hearing the males in her group talk about women. She told The Herald about her near relapse, “I ran to my dressing room in a flood of tears. I hated myself all over again for not being thin enough or having a perfect body. It hurt so much that suddenly cutting started to make sense again.” She took a penknife and was about to cut herself when a fellow band member walked in.
She has gone public with her past experiences because she feels the need to help others. She said, “I’m speaking out because I feel this problem is getting worse for some kids. I’m not an expert on this, but you have to talk to someone. I’ve seen kids with cigarette burns on their arms or gashes on their legs. It kills me, but hopefully my coming forward can help a little.”
Lyrics from the song, Medication:
“Somebody get me out of here, I’m tearing at myself.
Nobody gives a damn about me, or anybody else…”
Diana, Princess of Wales, was born on July 1, 1961 to the Viscount and Viscountess of Althorp. Diana’s parents divorced when she was six, her mother leaving her father for another man. During the rest of her childhood she shuttled back and forth between two households. At age fourteen, she had described herself as hopeless and a poor student.
Diana began purging the night before her marriage to Prince Charles, having discovered that her fiance was in love with another woman. During her marriage she felt no control over her life, it was a repeat of the pain and betrayal of her childhood.
In a 1995 BBC television interview Diana revealed to the world that she was a self-injurer. She said that she had cut her arms and legs, explaining, “You have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help.” “Diana: Her True Story,” a biography written on the princess said that Diana had thrown herself into a glass cabinet at Kensington palace at various times, slashed her wrists with a razor, and cut herself with the serrated edge of a lemon slicer. Once, during a heated argument with Prince Charles, she picked up a penknife and cut her chest and thighs. Her husband still scorned her, and thought she was faking her problems, that it was melodramatic attention seeking. During a fight on an airplane, Diana locked herself in the bathroom, cut her arms, and smeared the blood over the cabin walls and seats. Another time she threw herself down the stairs.
Diana died on August 31, 1997 in an automobile accident with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed, while trying to evade the paparazzi. She was a courageous women, and gave further prominence to the problem of self-injury.
Christina Ricci, an actress since childhood, was born in Santa Monica, California to a lawyer-psychiatrist father and real estate agent mother in 1980. Her parents divorced when she was thirteen. She was discovered at the age of seven and a year later made her screen debut in Mermaids (1990), in which she played Cher’s daughter. She showed herself to be a talented, adult actress in the movie, the Ice Storm, in which she played a sexually precocious fourteen-year-old. Christina, a compulsive talker and smoker, is known for her outspokenness on a large number of controversial topics.
In a US magazine interview Christina explained a small, smile-shaped scar on her hand. “I was trying to impress Gaby [Hoffmann, her best friend]. So I heated up a lighter and pressed it on my hand.” She revealed other burn scars on her arms and said, “I wanted to see if I can handle pain. It’s sort of an experiment to see if I can handle pain.” In a SPIN magazine interview she revealed that she sometimes would put out cigarettes out on her arms. When asked if it hurts she replied, “No. You get this endorphin rush. You can actually faint from pain. It takes a second, a little sting, and then it’s like you really don’t feel anything. It’s calming actually.” In a 1998 Rolling Stone interview she explained where each scar came from. When she was angry about “not looking very good” Christina heated up a lighter and held it to her hand to impress some boys. Scratches on her forearms came from fingernails and soda tops. She explained, “It’s like having a drink. But it’s quicker. You know how your brain shuts down from pain? The pain would be so bad, it would force my body to slow down, and I wouldn’t be as anxious. It made me calm.” Christina also developed anorexia when she was fourteen but has since recovered. In a 1999 Mademoiselle interview she said, “In a way, I was trying to get rid of my breasts. Everyone my age wanted them, so it was like, whoo-ooo. Then I started hating them. And for all of my movies, I was supposed to be younger, so I’d have to strap them down.”
When looking back on her self-injury the same interview Christina said, “when I was younger, I did self-mutilate. I’d be upset, so I’d do it, and it would calm me down. It’s a horrible way to feel better. But there are two parts of your brain- one that really wants to destroy the other. And sometimes the idea of self-destruction is very romantic. I got over that.”
Known for his role of lead singer of the band, Papa Roach, Jacoby Shaddix has admittedly self-injured. In an MTV article he says of the song, Scars, “Some of our fans hear that song and say, ‘I had to give it a few listens, dude. But I love it,’ It’s a P-Roach anthem. It has heart. It’s just undeniable. It stems from a good night in Vegas turned bad. I ended up in the hospital with 11 staples in my head, self-mutilation. It was just a really bad night. It’s about trying to help someone who really doesn’t want you to help them.” In an Examiner.com article he says of the time around Papa Roach’s third album, Lovehatetragedy, “I hated myself when I made that record. It was a really f’d up period in my life.” The article states he was self-destructive and suicidal. Shaddix also has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. In an August 2012 Rolling Stone article he is said to have struggled with suicidal depression after the near-dissolution of his 15-year marriage while working on the Papa Roach’s latest album, The Connection, but is now clean and sober and working things out with his wife.
English Amy Studt, singer, is from Bournemouto, England and was born in London on the 22nd of March, 1986. She has become a pop singer in the United Kingdom and has been compared to Avril Lavigne. She was discovered at the age of sixteen and went on to record a record, False Smiles.
Amy was bullied at school from an early age on before she became famous. In Bliss magazine she said, “When I was about 13, I was constantly bullied at my boarding school in Bournemouth. Girls would shout awful abuse at me in my dorm - to the point where I’d be curled up in a corner, sobbing. They’d call me a `sad loner’ or `anorexic smurf’. I didn’t have an eating problem, but I’m naturally skinny, and they knew I was sensitive about it. The abuse got me really depressed.” The depression led to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Amy was unable to concentrate on her schoolwork. Classmates and others, including teachers, though she was lazy. The stress caused headaches because of brain swelling and it took several months to diagnose. Even before that Amy had been unlucky. She had developed osteomyelitis, a bone disease that led her to be bedridden, at the age of twelve.
The bullying in her early teens led her to self-injure. Here is what she said about what happened:
The stress of the situation made me so ill i was stuck in a bed for days - but the abuse didn’t stop. One time the bullies crept in to flick me with cold baked beans. I remember the day when the name-calling just got too much - I walked into the toilet, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut myself. I just wanted to replace one kind of pain with another - and i thought physical pain would be much easier to deal with. When I cut myself there was something to show for the hurt I was feeling. From then on I always cut myself when they started on me.
No-one knew about the cuts. I wore big jumpers all the time to cover my arms. I was devastated when my brother found out. One day we were putting up a birthday poster on a notice board and my sleeve slipped down revealing my scars. He grabbed my arm and said “what the smurf is that?” It was horrible, and I wouldn’t talk about it.
My brother told my parents and close friends, but everyone just skirted round the subject. I hated the fact that people tip-toed around me, I kept thinking `just talk to me about it’ but I guess it was really tough for everyone. I was embarrassed too, because, let’s face it, people think you’re completely loopy if you’re cutting yourself.
I self harmed for two years in total, even after moving schools and getting away from the bullies. I was feeling much happier but it was my boyfriend who eventually helped me stop. He could see from the scars what I was doing and one day he said `if you’re doing it then I’m doing it as well’ I did it one last time and he did it too. I was so appalled i didn’t do it again.
I know now that self-harming is pointless and doesn’t help. If you’re being bullied, go and talk to someone you trust. Don’t self harm because its not worth it. Chat to someone because if you keep it to yourself it just gets worse. Believe me… I know.”
Amy is no longer bullied and her fame has caused past classmates to reconsider their view of her. Sincere or not they may be but she is no longer an outcast. She has overcome her self-destructive behavior and has become successful. Her songs, including “Just a Little Girl,” got good radio play at the time of their release. The circumstances that led to her self-injurious behavior have been lifted.
Mia Tyler, daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, revealed in her memoir, Creating Myself: How I Learned That Beauty Comes in All Shapes, Sizes, and Packages, Including Me, that in her teen years she used to indulge in heavy drinking, drugs, and self-injury in her teens. She was the “black sheep” of her family and a high school dropout.
Mia began cutting herself in her mid-teens, first with a makeup compact, then with knives and razors. She said in a September 2008 People article, “It’s about finding a friend. I could always rely on cocaine and the same thing goes for cutting….You want to find that first initial high. You’re in love with your addictions, and they can’t say no to you. So you have to find out how to say no to them.” In a September 5, 2008 blog post on her Myspace (formerly http://www.myspace.com/miatyler/blog/430231595) she said of self-injury, “It is a drug in its own right. I always say I am a recovering addict… I fight it on a daily basis. I’m not hurting like I used to when I was cutting all the time. But it never goes away. Cutting was my best friend when I felt alone. I never had to answer to it… It made me feel good when I couldn’t make myself better.”
She also began to use drugs, starting with marijuana, then moving to ecstasy and acid. In 1998 her father sent her to rehab after she called him whilst on drugs. After rehab she began to work as a pluz-size models for companies such as Lane Bryant and H&M and became a success.
She said in the same 2008 People article, ”I still think about cutting. I was in a dark place, but I’m on the other side of the looking glass now. I feel like a kid again.”
Sid Vicious, aka John Simon Ritchie, was born in London, England on May 10, 1957. The legendary member of the Sex Pistols was known for his self-injury done live on stage and a popular and visible icon of the punk movement. He was raised by his mother, Anne Beverly, who was troubled and had a history of heroin abuse.
Sid became part of the Sex Pistols in February of 1977. He couldn’t play music and usually had his amp turned down to near-zero because of this. It still did not matter. He was popular. He was a symbol of disaffected youth and the punk revolution. Photographer Dennis Morris said of Sid in a pictorial history of the band, Never Mind the Bollock’s, “Deep down he was a shy person. I think he was frightened of the audiences…. Sometimes he showed no emotion at all.”
By 1975 he had begun to self-injure. Sid later boasted that his body was covered in scars from self-inflicted cuts. It is also believed that around 1975 he also strangled a cat and assaulted a pensioner. Morris said of a meeting at McLaren’s office after a tour, “Sid walked in with this knife stuck in his leg. We said ‘Sid, you’ve got a knife in your leg’. He said ‘uh, have I?’ and pulled it out. He was so doped up all the time, especially on heroin, he never felt it.”
Sid had a relationship with a very troubled woman, Nancy Spungen, who was the person who introduced him to heroin. She had abused drugs and had attempted suicide multiple times over the years. Their relationship has been described as codependent. Morris said, “When they were together he was like a kitten, but without her he would go crazy.”
On tour in the USA in 1978 Sid was without Nancy and was increasingly agitated. Morris said, “[Sid] was erratic. No one knew why. It seemed he missed Nancy. Sometimes he wouldn’t eat at all. He’d drink heavy and take lots of drugs.” He self-injured on stage by slashing his chest and engaged in acts of violence on stage.
On October 12, 1978 Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, Nancy Spungen, was found dead in their room in a hotel in New York City. Sid had supposedly stabbed her to death. Ten days later Sid attempted suicide by repeatedly slashing his forearm with a knife and screaming, “I want to join Nancy, I didn’t keep my part of the bargain,” according to author Malcom Butt.
Sid died on February 2, 1979 of a heroin (which he obtained from his mother at a party because she feared he would be arrested buying drugs on the street) overdose while out on bail.
Amy Winehouse was a Jewish girl from North London who was known for her drug abuse, relationship issues, and her crooning voice. Winehouse was born on September 23, 1983. She was compared to Sid Vicious by Spin.com and was well-known for her song, “Rehab,” which was an ode to her refusal to seek help for her drinking problem. Winehouse sported numerous pin-up girl tattoos and her drug and eating disorder problems had made her exceptionally thin. She was known for making drunken public appearances, including a time when she ran off the stage to vomit.
Winehouse’s parents, Mitch and Janis, divorced when she was nine; she and her brother lived mainly with her mother in North London. When Amy was ten she and friend, Juliette Ashby, formed a rap duo called Sweet N’ Sour after rap group, Salt-n-Pepa. Despite this she didn’t plan on becoming a musician. She wanted to become a roller-skating waitress like the ones in American Grafitti. When she was twelve she enrolled in the Sylvia Young Theatre School but was kicked out at the age of fourteen for piercing her nose and her attitude. Winehouse received her first guitar at the age of thirteen and by the age of sixteen was singing professionally.
Blake Fielder-Civil and Amy Winehouse had an intense on-again-off-again relationship which culminated in marriage on May 18, 2007. When the two were separated Winehouse wrote a series of heartbroken songs for her album, Back to Black. This album sealed her fame in the United Kingdom and made her known in the United States.
Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, was released in 2003 and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. In 2007 she also won a BRIT Award for Best British Female Artist; she had also been nominated for Best British Album. Back to Black, was announced as one of the twelve albums on the 2007 list of Mercury Prize nominees; she was also nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards in 2007.
Winehouse had bulimia and had struggled with it since she had been a teenager and had also been known to take a series of hard drugs. In October 2006 she told the Daily Mirror that she had had “a little bit of anorexia, a little bit of bulimia. I’m not totally okay now, but I don’t think any woman is and most men will agree.” In a September 2007 article she was reported to have said she had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder but refused to take medication. On August 8, 2007 she was admitted to University College Hospital in London after slipping into a drug-induced coma and the Vancouver Sun reported that she stayed at the Causeway treatment centre in Essex for five days.
There are rumors from tabloids that Winehouse had a past history with self-injury, with a cutting incident at the age of nine that she found painful. She reportedly said, “It’s a funny thing, a morbid curiosity. I’m talking about when I was nine. What does that feel like? ‘Ow, that fucking hurts.’ It’s probably the worst thing I’ve done.” In a Spin.com video Winehouse scratched her exposed midriff with a shard of broken mirror when posing for photographer Terry Richardson. In the same video her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, asked her, “What did you think about the broken glass?” Winehouse replied, “I wrote ‘I love Blake’ on my tummy.” She lifted her shirt but the cuts were not visible on the video and said, “It’s just chicken scratch,” while she and Fielder-Civil laughed. Spin.com has reported that Winehouse and Fielder-Civil “have matching crisscross scars and scratches up and down their left arms,” though it also said the marks are “presumably from a misbehaving house cat.”
On August 23, 2007 Winehouse was seen stumbling the streets with her husband; she was bloody and bruised. It was reported she told blogger, Perez Hilton, “I was cutting myself after he found me in our room about to do drugs with a call girl and rightly said I wasn’t good enough for him. I lost it and he saved my life.” Her parents-in-law said, after the incident, to boycott her music and stop giving her awards.
Amy Winehouse died July 23, 2011 as a result of alcohol poisoning at the age of twenty-seven.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of “Prozac Nation” and “Bitch,” was born on July 31, 1967, in the middle of the Summer of Love. Her parents divorced before she turned two, and her father would sleep through all her visits. Her mother was over-protective and usually unemployed. She describes herself as being a “golden girl” until she turned eleven, a time when she first broke down.
“When I was ten or eleven, I really cracked up, started hiding in the locker room at school, crying for hours, or walking around the corridors saying, Everything is plastic, we’re all gonna die anyway, so why does anything matter? I’d read this phrase in a picture of some graffiti in a magazine article about punk rock, which I decided was definitely a great invention. When I stopped talking, stopped eating, stopped going to school, and started spending my time cutting my legs up with razor blades while listening to dumb rock music like Foreigner on a little Panasonic tape recorder, my parents agreed I needed psychiatric help. To make a very long and complicated story short, my mom found a therapist for me, my dad didn’t like him and kept trying to sneak me off to others, I never got terribly effective treatment, my father refused to file an insurance claim for the psychiatrist I was seeing, and the whole scenario concluded with me as messed up as ever, but with all the adults involved suing one another. My mom sued my dad for unpaid alimony and child support, my psychiatrist sued my dad for unpaid bills, and after years of lawyers everywhere, my father finally fled to Florida when I was fourteen years old and did not turn up in my life again until my freshman year at Harvard.”
Elizabeth was clinically depressed. During her college years she had a series of breakdowns and drug abuse. Finally, she attempted to kill herself in her psychiatrist’s bathroom and ended up in a psychiatric hospital. She began taking Prozac, one of the first individuals to take Prozac. She told how it helped her, “Something just kind of changed in me…I became all right, safe in my own skin…One morning I woke up, and I really did want to live…The black wave, for the most part, is gone. On a good day, I don’t even think about it any more.”
Elizabeth wrote a memoir of her struggles with depression, “Prozac Nation,” and a book that describes the history of manipulative female behavior, “Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women.” She has written articles and for various newspapers and magazines. In 2000 she revealed that she had become addicted to Ritalin and cocaine during the years after “Prozac Nation,” but had checked herself into a clinic where she became clean. In a Daily Telegraph article she said that she is no longer depressed but still has some anxieties.
Elizabeth Wurtzel described her cutting in much better words than I would be able to do:
“I guess the cutting began when I started to spend my lunch period hiding in the girls’ locker room, scared to death of everybody around me. I would bring my functional black and silver Panasonic, meant for voice recording and not music, and I would listen intently to the scratchy sounds of the tapes I’d accumulated, mostly popular hard rock like Foreigner, which, trashy as it was, sounded like liberation to me. I’d sit there with my tape recorder, eating cottage cheese and pineapples from a stout thermos I brought from home (I was, by this time, also certain that I was fat), and it was a peaceful relief from having to deal with other people, whether they were teachers or friends. Every so often, I would sit in the locker room on the floor, leaning against the concrete wall while my tape recorder sat on the bench, and I would fantasize about going back to the person I had always been. The reverse transformation couldn’t be that much of a leap. I could just try talking to people again. I could get the astonished look off my face, as if my eyes had just been exposed to a terrible glare. I could laugh a bit. I would imagine myself doing the things I once did, like playing tennis. Every so often I would make a decision, first thing in the morning as I headed out the door for the school bus, that I was going to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed that day; I would be friendly, I would smile, I would raise my hand in math class from time to time. I remember those days, because I could see how my friends got this look of relief on their faces. I would walk toward them, standing in a huddle in the blue-carpeted hall outside of the classroom, and they would half expect me to say something like ‘Everything’s plastic, we’re all gonna die’ and instead I would just say, Good Morning, And suddenly, their bodies would relax, their shoulders would drop comfortably, and sometimes they would even say, Oh wow, you’re the old Lizzy again, kind of like a parent who has finally accepted that his oldest son has become a Shiite Muslim and is moving to Iran when, suddenly, the kid returns home and announces that he wants to go to law school after all. My friends, and my mother for that matter, would be relieved to find that I was more the me they wanted me to be. The trouble was, I thought this alternative persona I had adopted was just that: a put-on, a way of getting attention, a way of being different. And maybe when I first started walking around talking about plastic and death, maybe then it was an experiment. But after a while, the alternative me really just was me. Those days that I tried to be the little girl I was supposed to be drained me. I went home at night and cried for hours because so many people in my life expecting me to be a certain way was too much pressure, as if I’d been held against a wall and interrogated for hours, asked questions I couldn’t quite answer any longer. I remember being in a panic one day at school when I realized that I could not even fake being the old Lizzy anymore. I had, indeed, metamorphosed into this nihilistic, unhappy girl. Just like Gregor Samsa waking up to find he’d become a six foot long roach, only in my case, I had invented the monster and now it was overtaking me. This was what I’d come to. This was what I’d be for the rest of my life. Things were bad now and would get worse later. They would. I had not heard the word depression yet, and would not for some time after that, but I felt something very wrong going on. I felt that I was wrong - my hair was wrong, my face was wrong, my personality was wrong - my God, my choice of flavors at the Haagan Dazs shop after school was wrong! How could I walk around with such pasty white skin, such dark, doleful eyes, such straight anemic hair, such round hips and such a small clinched waist? How could I let anybody see me this way? How could I expose other people to my person, to this bane to the world? I was one big mistake. And so, sitting in the locker room, petrified that I was doomed to spend my life hiding from people this way, I took my keys out of my knapsack. On the chain was a sharp nail clipper, which had a nail file attached to it. I rolled down my knee socks (we were required to wear skirts to school) and looked at my bare white legs. I hadn’t really started shaving yet, only from time to time because my mother considered me too young, and I looked at the delicate peach fuzz, still soft and untainted. A perfect, clean canvas. So I took the nail file, found its sharp edge, and ran it across my lower leg, watching a red line of blood appear across my skin. I was surprised at how straight the line was and at how easy it was for me to hurt myself in this way. It was almost fun. I was always the sort to pick scabs and peel sunburned skin in sheets off my shoulders, always pestering my body. This was just the next step. And how much more satisfying it was to muck up my own body than relying on mosquitoes and walks in the country among thorny bushes to do it for me. I made a few more scratches, alternating between legs, this time moving the file more quickly, less cautiously. I did not, you see, want to kill myself. Not at that time, anyway. But I wanted to know that if need be, if the desperation got so terribly bad, I could inflict harm on my body. And I could. Knowing this gave me a sense of peace and power, so I started cutting up my legs all the time. Hiding the scars from my mother became a sport of its own. I collected razor blades, I bought a Swiss Army knife, I became fascinated with different kinds of sharp edges and the different cutting sensations they produced. I tried out different shapes - squares, triangles, pentagons, even an awkwardly carved heart, with a stab wound at its center, wanting to see if it hurt the way a real broken heart could hurt. I was amazed and pleased to find that it didn’t.”
Note: I researched and wrote these biographies. If you are so inclined to take them and use them on your own site (I encourage you to be creative but if you have to) then give credit to Gabrielle and a link back to http://self-injury.net/. Thank you.
Do you know of any other famous self-injurers? If so, please contact me through the form.