Fear of getting injured - what causes this?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by pluto2, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. pluto2 Banned Valued Senior Member

    Ever since I was young, I had this panic fear of getting cut or injured by a very sharp object like a very sharp utility knife (see below).

    Because the last time I was accidently cut by a very sharp object the pain was very very severe, it's like my cells were screaming like a 10,000 watt light bulb.


    Does anyone have any idea what could be causing my panic fear of getting injured and what I can do about it?
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Sometimes phobias develop, you probably hit a nerve the first time and it caused mental trauma. The method to get over it would likely involve gradual introduction to sharp objects.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

    You could avoid using sharp tools of any kind. That way you won't need to worry about being cut because you can't get cut without a sharp tool of some kind. I do not need a sharp tool for my work and if I did need one I would call a friend to give me a hand with whatever I'm going to do so that he would be using the tool and not me.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. siledre Registered Senior Member

    alter you perspective of life.
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member


    You're not at peace with the idea that you're nothing but a biomechanical blob.
  9. wellwisher Banned Banned

    One way is to gradually acclimate yourself to sharp objects, by starting with similar blunt objects. If you fear knives, get a plastic or toy knife that can't cut you and use this to build up your skills with the knife. Once you skills allow control and you realize how harmless this starter point is, then you gradually scale up. A person who fears cats would play with a kitten. Sometimes those who fear something go on to become highly skilled; surgeon or chef.
  10. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Geeze dude, utility knives are pretty scary! I'd rather work with a dagger or a butcher's knife than one of those things! Isn't that what the Muslim terrorists used to take over the planes on 9/11?

    It's not the sharpness. As I'll explain below, sharp blades are actually safer than dull ones because they require less pressure and are easier to control. And if you do cut yourself they don't cause as much pain either. It's the awkward way of holding it that makes them dangerous. Anyway, to start at the beginning...

    Phobias like this are often created by our parents when we're too little to remember. Your mother/father may have been afraid of knives, or accidentally hurt him/herself really bad with one and had to go to the hospital, or accidentally hurt you. You might have gotten hold of one and hurt yourself; I'm not a parent but I've been assured that there's no such thing as making something 100% child-proof! This might have happened when you were 18 months old so you don't remember it consciously, but it's still one of your earliest and scariest memories.

    I fell into a septic tank when I was 7--that's not just scary, it's about as icky as you can get. I had a fear of jumping or falling into water for years. I could climb down into a pool but I could not jump off the edge, much less dive. But somehow I overcame it and am now a competent swimmer.

    I just gritted my teeth and jumped in, feeling like I was going to die every time. Eventually the fear started to recede and ultimately it went away completely.

    You might be able to do the same thing. Maybe not by using a plastic knife as Wellwisher suggested, because you will know that it's not real and can't hurt you. Hobbyists use all kinds of tiny tools, maybe you can find a really small knife. This way you can reason with yourself: "Sure, I might cut myself and it would hurt, but it probably can't go deep enough to draw blood so it wouldn't be a serious injury." You need one with a handle that fits your hand perfectly. Not a Swiss Army knife or any kind of collapsible pocket knife, because the geometry is just wrong for building confidence.

    I wonder if it was really "very sharp." Very sharp blades cut the skin so easily it's like cutting butter. What makes a cut hurt worst is to be sawed rather than sliced. Sawing on your skin with a rough blade causes the skin to wiggle back and forth, so a great many nerve endings are activated, causing a great deal of pain. Whereas slicing it only hits the nerve endings that just happen to be right there under the knife, so there is considerably less pain.

    It also depends on the part of your body. On the human body, about half of our total nerve endings are in just three rather small areas: mouth, hands (palm and palm-side fingers, not the top side) and feet (again just the bottom--remember, we're apes and and all apes except humans use their feet as much as their hands). So if you cut yourself on your lip or tongue, or the palm of your hand or the bent side of your finger, or the same place on your foot, it's going to hurt a helluva lot more than if it was on your scalp or your knee or your abdomen. You may have noticed that the hands and mouth are also our erogenous zones that can arouse us sexually. Feet too, on some people, but most of us are just ticklish there.

    So if you decide to try cutting something to get over your problem, be sensible and keep the most sensitive areas of your body out of harm's weigh. Don't hold something in your fingers or in the palm of your hand and try to cut it from above. Put it down on a cutting board or in a vise. Pick something large enough that when you hold it with your other hand it's so far from the knife that even if you slip you can't cut yourself.

    Fear, or simply lack of confidence, breeds clumsiness because your muscles tense up and make your motions jerky and awkward. You need to accomplish some cuts without hurting yourself. Then you'll relax a little bit because you're not unconsciously (or perhaps even consciously) waiting with resignation for the inevitable pain. So set the stage for that. Use a knife that's small and sharp, with a handle that is easy to grip and control, cut a material that's not going to cause the blade to slide or bounce (or just so soft that the blade will go all the way through and poke you in the thigh), keep your other hand out of the line of fire, exhale and loosen up your muscles (chest, stomach, butt, everything: turn yourself into a dishrag) so you'll be able to control them more easily and accurately.

    Then don't push your luck. Make one successful cut, then put everything away. Go to bed with the memory of that one successful cut. Do it again, maybe next week. One day you will say to yourself, "I don't need to wait a whole week this time because this is going so well."

    At that point you'll be on your way.

    Good luck!
  11. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member


    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    The worst cut of all is a paper cut.

    I once bought a ream of paper that must have been super sharp or something,
    or it may have been part of some Taliban conspiracy.
    It cut me every day.
    Eventually, I didn't want to go near it.

    That's the worst ream of paper I ever bought.
  12. Rav Valued Senior Member

    Paper cuts are indeed teh suck. I get pissed off just thinking about them. They're almost personal.
  13. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    As others have posted, cuts can be extremely painful, depending on what part of the body is involved. Avoidance response is entirely normal but to become panicked indicates that your earliest experience must have been very traumatic or came at a very impressionable time in your life. Many people have a history of one bad experience and never venturing there again as with horses, dogs, flying, various foods....the list is endless.

    If you truly want to understand and overcome your apprehension, I would suggest that learning as much as you can about sharp objects is a good first step.

    It is very intelligent to respect the potential of injury, pain, infection and resulting complications.

    Once you understand the mechanisms of pain, healing and especially prevention of injury, you may be ready to venture beyond your present discomfort zone. I have had a pocketknife since I was 8 years old and we made many of our our own toys and tools as well as learned how to keep our knife sharp. I presently work in retail grocery and use a retractable safety knife as per the image below. They are very user friendly because the moment you release the trigger, the blade retracts and the blade depth has 3 settings. In 4 years of using this tool, I have nicked my pants once. Paper cuts from the cardboard boxes are the scourge of my existence.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  14. Captain Kremmen All aboard, me Hearties! Valued Senior Member

    Getting back to the original subject.
    It's a phobia.
    They can potentially cripple people, but they are curable.

    In the UK, you would consult a doctor, who would refer you to a specialist.
    The biggest problem would be to summon up the courage to talk to your doctor.
    The specialist would sort it out.

    But God knows what this would cost you in the US.
    Or has the Obama health law helped?
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Virtually all U.S. medical insurance plans cover psychiatry because psychiatrists are, after all, doctors. It's not "elective surgery" like a facelift, so there's no way for them to exclude it, although there might be a maximum number of sessions per year.

    Most plans will even cover psychotherapy by a non-MD therapist, for the self-serving reason that their rates are often considerably lower.

    I haven't had any reason to visit a shrink since I became eligible for Medicare, but I'm sure it would be covered.
  16. keems Registered Member

    Well exposure to traumatic events will lead a person to fear of injury. It makes sense that people who have been less exposed to a terrible injury to be in a fight or flight attitude VS a doctor who has seen a similar situation over time and time again.
  17. MarkHolland Registered Member

    Fear is not always adaptive. A small amount of fear before an important speech serves a purpose – it encourages you to focus on your topic and avoid making a fool of yourself. This is one of the types of fear that can be useful to sharpen our minds. However, some types of fear that are excessive can become crippling, or even make you feel like escaping when it is not appropriate to do so.

    When fear gets out of control, or when we fear something that cannot actually harm us, it can escalate to a point where it effects our daily functioning. Fear is no longer adaptive if we find we are constantly afraid of events that haven’t happened yet.

    Future-orientated fear is known as anxiety. While fear happens at the moment danger arises, anxiety is characterized by apprehension because we don’t know what’s going to happen next, and we cannot control upcoming events.

    Experiencing an alarm response when there is in fact nothing to be afraid of is known as panic. Many people are familiar with this type of fear and it is often (although not always) accompanied by a phobia.

    Panic is an immediate physical response to unrealistic and irrational fears. This can have a huge affect on both your emotional and physical well-being – as well as your ability to reach your full potential.
  18. rodereve Registered Member

    Very interesting, I didn't know the proper distinctions between those terms.

    As for the OP, fear of getting injured is very rationale. but I guess every fear is rationale to an extent. Everyone fears death. But not everyone fears death to the extent that they worry about it consciously every waking moment. So you don't have to get rid of the fear entirely, you just have to move it up the spectrum to the green zone, the healthy normal amount of fear.
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I would amend that to "most people, especially the young, fear death." Nursing homes, convalescent facilities, hospices and similar institutions have a high percentage of residents who yearn for death. Mrs. Fraggle and I both watched our mothers languish in these places, losing their memories, their mobility, their alertness, their relationships (my mother called my wife by my ex-wife's name, a woman she hadn't seen in 30 years), their ability to think... their identities!

    At 69 we're both hoping for an era in which it will be easier for a person to make an advance decision about termination of life when it becomes unbearable. The bastards at my mother's place didn't even honor her "no tube feeding" order. Every day they managed to keep her alive as a near-vegetable was another $100 of income.

    I don't worry about death. I worry about the weeks or months of anguish and indignity that come before it. My mother-in-law was a prisoner in one of those places for three f***ing years!
  20. pluto2 Banned Valued Senior Member

    So being a biochemical blob or whatever I am, does it mean I'm far different or maybe even inferior to other normal people (who are not biochemical like me) and that I can experience far more pain than other people because my entire physiology is biochemical and is different from other normal people who are not biochemical machines like me?
  21. KilljoyKlown Whatever Valued Senior Member

    I don't like the idea of getting stabbed with a knife and I try to avoid situations where that could happen. I also have a fear of high places or maybe it's the guy behind me that makes me not want to get to close to the edge.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

  22. Rita Registered Member

    This is a fairly common phobia. http://phobias.about.com/od/phobiasatoh/f/What-Is-The-Fear-Of-Sharp-Objects.htm
    spidergoat is correct about desensitizing your reaction to sharp objects. It is best to do this with someone else. The link says the problem can get worse if not treated. That is because when we avoid what we are afraid of, this reinforces the fear.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  23. pluto2 Banned Valued Senior Member

    But I don't live in either the UK or the US. I live in Israel which is far away from the UK and even much more far away from the United States.

    I also don't have the money to see a doctor because I'm facing severe financial and legal difficulties in addition to my fear of getting seriously injured. I am also in serious financial debt so seeing a doctor right now is definitely not a option for me.

    The fact is I'm completely screwed and there is not much I can do about it.

Share This Page