Many people think that the thing called “self harm” or “self injury” is scary and should be considered a problem, but they do not know the whole of it. They have only seen self injury from the outside looking in, but have never experienced it themselves. This is what makes self harm seem like something to be scorned, and something to be feared. It appears to be evident only in teenage girls who want attention, but it is so much more. Self harm can be a means of expression, or a silent call for help; a coping method, and an escape.
People who intentionally hurt themselves are not people to be ignored and ridiculed; they are people who just need help. The action affects the person, their loved ones, their mental health, and their personal relationships. With the help of Dr. Tara Deliberto, Dr. Helen Bergen, and many other specialists, people can better understand what self injury is and what can be done about it. So many people have things to say on this topic, but the question still remains: Why do people self injure, and what effect does it have on them? Why do people self harm, and what effect does it have on them?
The first step to finding these answers is to know what self harm really is. There are many articles and discussions about self injury, because it is so common. People do not realize the number of teenagers and even adults that are affected by SIV. SIV—or Self-Inflicted Violence—is when a person intentionally inflicts physical pain on themselves. This could happen in various ways. The most common methods are cutting and burning, but there are many other ways, too. Picking scabs to prevent the healing process and even bruising oneself is also considered self injury, but the list doesn’t end there.
Hair-pulling, excessive tattooing and piercing can also be considered forms of SIV. Though having knowledge of the methods of self injury is important, half of the process of understanding this illness is making the effort to understand the person behind the actions. The majority of the people who are affected by SIV are usually intelligent people who are perfectly capable of leading normal lives, and just have very poor self-image. The victims of SIV are not limited to one age group, or one gender.
The group that is most prone to self injure are women between the ages of thirteen and sixty, but they are not the only people suffering from SIV. Boys and men can go through the same thing, and have the same feelings; this is just less common. A lot of the time, eating disorders go hand in hand with self injury. Cyntianna Ledesma (2009) states, “People who SIV are also linked with other illnesses such as Anorexia, Bulimia, Borderline Personality Disorders, Manic Depression, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders. ” Ledesma, although mostly correct, does not specify that this does not always have to be true.
These other disorders can be associated with SIV, but are not necessarily paired with SIV in every person. To elaborate on these disorders; anorexic people starve themselves to the point of malnutrition which causes them to be unhealthily thin. Bulimia is also an eating disorder in which a person gorges themselves, then purposely vomits the food back up. This is also usually due to insecurity in weight. “A personality disorder is a type of mental disorder that causes a person to think, feel, and act differently than what is considered normal.
”(Blahd, 2011) The condition called manic depression, or Bipolar disorder, is when a person experiences severe mood swings. Blahd (2011) also stated that Bipolar disorder “is a serious condition, when mania causes sleeplessness, sometimes for days, along with hallucinations, psychosis, grandiose delusions, and/or paranoid rage. ” Lastly, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent and persistent thoughts and feelings and repetitive, ritualized behaviors. Although SIV is very common in people who suffer from illnesses such as Anorexia and Bulimia, anyone can decide to harm themselves.
A lot of the problem is that the self injury can become an addiction. Even in someone purposely hurts themselves just once; they can instantly become dependent on it. Cutting results in endorphins being released and this can make one feel better in the moment. People get hooked on that feeling of relief and must keep injuring themselves to again receive that escape. SIV is a lot like a drug. Addiction is one of the main reasons why people do in fact self injure, but it is not the only one. Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain.
As counterintuitive as it may sound to those on the outside, hurting yourself makes you feel better. In fact, you may feel like you have no choice. Injuring yourself is the only way you know how to cope with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt, and rage. (Smith & Segal, 2013) Knowing what self harm is can help lead to the complete understanding of the big question: why? There are many myths about SIV. The most common one that has been accepted by the majority of the public is that self-harmers do it for attention. This is not true. Dr.
Tara Deliberto (2011) says “Sure, getting attention could be part of the answer, but it’s not that simple. If you’ve never cut yourself, consider this: of all the things you could possibly do for attention, is carving your skin with a razor really at the top of the list? Probably not. ” Smith & Segal (2013) wrote that another common myth regarding self-injury is that people who self-harm are crazy and/or dangerous. As previously stated, some may suffer from anxiety or depression, but should not be labeled as psychotic or unsafe. This just further ruins the reputation of self harmers.
The second most common mistake made by society is the belief that self-harmers want to die. There are a select few that may have suicidal wishes, but generally, self-injurers do not have death in mind when they hurt themselves. Deliberto’s research indicates that self-injury does indeed replace emotional pain with physical which is easier to cope with, but the reasoning goes even deeper than that. As mentioned before, people who self-injure tend to have poor self image. The world that we live in today has standard labels for people; the “good” and the “bad.
” Deliberto (2011) wrote that “We think in words. We label ourselves as good or bad. We tell ourselves we are good or bad. ” When someone is constantly telling him or herself that they are a “bad” person, they begin to feel like they deserve to suffer. Some thoughts that might run through people’s heads before they harm themselves is that they are worthless, disgusting, or that no one could be capable of loving them. In their eyes, they are less important than the ground on which they walk. People label themselves, and get in a fixed mindset that they deserve the pain they are inflicting.
These SIV sufferers do not only tell themselves how unimportant and worthless they are, they fully believe it. This is the difference between self-harmers and people who just take in a bad thing they have done. “It is one thing to think ‘Wow, I am a bad person,’ acknowledging it as just a thought, and moving on. It is another thing to think ‘Wow, I am a bad person’ and believe it. ” (Deliberto, 2011) It’s the self-abusive talk that really causes people to self-harm. All of the constant negative thoughts bring people down.
The skies become grayer, the concept of “happiness” is hard to remember, and life through the person’s eyes is completely different. This is where self-injury “helps” these people. The physical pain is more tolerable. Right after the body experiences an injury, it harder to be caught up in thoughts. The physical pain provides a mental break from the horrible self-talk. The pain becomes a vacation. One study observed that a non-human primate especially neglected ones; tear their fur out in distress. They harm themselves. (Deliberto) It is just an instinctual feeling to want to make the emotional stress go away.
The general public tends to have more sympathy towards monkeys pulling their hair out; but do not consider the same feelings towards humans who cut. It truly is the same thing. In short, the solid reasons people usually self-injure are: * Expressing feelings you can’t put into words * Releasing the pain and tension you feel inside * Helping you feel in control * Distracting you from overwhelming emotions or difficult life circumstances * Relieving guilt and punishing yourself * Making you feel alive, or simply feel something, instead of feeling numb (Smith & Segal, 2013)
The effect on the SIV sufferer can vary from almost nothing to thoughts of suicide. If the victim comes out and tells people about their self-injury, it affects those people, too. Self harm can make people feel even more insecure about themselves when the scars don’t fade. Sometimes, the person feels even more disgusted with him or herself. The shame can then worsen. The physical damage is only one consequence to consider. Every thin white line could bring back the memory and the reason for that cut. When feelings leave scars, the person suffering from SIV will never be able to forget what made them so upset.
The effect that self-injury has on others is a completely different story. People usually draw their first impressions on how others look, and multiple scars that appear to be self-inflicted make a definite statement. Some people are immediately disgusted by these marks. Others are shocked and just want to stay away from the self-harmer because they don’t know how to help, and do not want to get involved. Some can even be angry and believe the victim is trying to be manipulative, while others are scared to be around these people. Family and friends may react with concern at the first sign of SI.
If the SIV continues despite their efforts to help, they usually grow tired of the effort. They withdraw. It is believed to be difficult to deal with a self-mutilator, and most people find themselves unprepared to handle or understand this destructive behavior, so they just do not even try. Bergen, H. (2012). Premature death after self-harm: a multicentre cohort study. Retrieved from http://www. thelancet. com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61141-6/fulltext Deliberto, T. (2011). Blogspot. Retrieved from http://taradeliberto. blogspot. com/2011/02/why-do-people-cut-themselves. html Fieve, R. (2010). Webmd.
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