Self-Harm – Cutting – Self-Injury

When I do a search for the term “self-harm” most of the results I get are from United Kingdom websites. I don’ know why.  I also notice that most of the results relate to young-people and self-harm.  That makes sense, since it appears to affect more kids than adults. So what self-injury or self-harm?

Self-harm includes anything you do to intentionally injure yourself. Some of the more common ways include:
• cutting or severely scratching your skin
• burning or scalding yourself
• hitting yourself or banging your head
• punching things or throwing your body against walls and hard objects
• sticking objects into your skin
• intentionally preventing wounds from healing
• swallowing poisonous substances or inappropriate objects

Self-harm can also include less obvious ways of hurting yourself or putting yourself in danger, such as driving recklessly, binge drinking, taking too many drugs, and having unsafe sex.

Understanding Self-Harm

Self-harm is a way of expressing and dealing with deep distress and emotional pain. As counterintuitive as it may sound, the hurting makes the person feel better. In fact, they may feel like they have no choice. The physical injury is the only way they know how to cope with feelings like sadness, self-loathing, emptiness, guilt, and rage.
The problem is that the relief that comes from self-harming doesn’t last very long. It’s like slapping on a Band-Aid when what you really need are stitches. It may temporarily stop the bleeding, but it doesn’t fix the underlying injury. And it also creates its own problems.

Most people who self-injure, try to keep it secret. They have feelings of shame and guilt. It tends to be a taboo subject, that most people don’t understand.

Brief Questions
This questionnaire will provide some insight

Warning Signs

Because clothing can hide physical injuries, and inner turmoil can be covered up by a seemingly calm disposition, self-injury can be hard to detect. However, there are red flags you can look for (but remember—you don’t have to be sure that you know what’s going on in order to reach out to someone you’re worried about):
• Unexplained wounds or scars from cuts, bruises, or burns, usually on the wrists, arms, thighs, or chest.
• Blood stains on clothing, towels, or bedding; blood-soaked tissues.
• Sharp objects or cutting instruments, such as razors, knives, needles, glass shards, or bottle caps, in the person’s belongings.
• Frequent “accidents.” Someone who self-harms may claim to be clumsy or have many mishaps, in order to explain away injuries.
• Covering up. A person who self-injures may insist on wearing long sleeves or long pants, even in hot weather.
• Needing to be alone for long periods of time, especially in the bedroom or bathroom.
• Isolation and irritability.

Self-Injury Worksheet
Severity Assessment

Although cutting can be a difficult pattern to break, it is possible. Getting
professional help to overcome the problem doesn’t mean that a person is
weak or crazy. Therapists and counselors are trained to help people discover
inner strengths that help them heal. These inner strengths can then be used
to cope with life’s other problems in a healthy way.

9 thoughts on “Self-Harm – Cutting – Self-Injury

  1. I used to pull wads of hair out of the back of my neck. My parents were abusive as many were, but especially my mother. I never did it after I left home.

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  2. Reblogged this on A Plan To Give You Hope and commented:
    This made me cry simply because I have self harmed for my entire life. Most of the time it is an unconscious action. Several times in my life, particularly when I was an addict, it had dire consequences. I got skin and blood infections, I lost use of my arm for a peiod of time, I have many many many scars all over my body, and no less than 5 open wounds on my body at most times. I do not cut myself. I did go through a period in my life when I did. But now it seems that my skin just rips open from a simple itch. I pick pimples and bug bites. I am very uncomfortable about it. I have never talked about it with anyone. I am very very very private about it. I have severe scaring all over the top portion of my back. It literally looks like Freddie Kruger dragged his claws down my back, over and over. Long, white, pink, and red scars cover my back, plus a few scratches. I keep my hair long enough to cover my back or I make sure my clothes always cover my back. I get wounds on my chin, and on my arms and legs. Sometimes I don’t even know how I get these cuts. I have been talking about it with my boyfriend lately and I do know that when I am anxious or stressed it manifests itself. I try to “fidgit” with something else so I don’t pick. Sometimes I don’t pick but I kind of scratch my head all over. I’ve been annoyed lately because I’m getting acne and I hate it. I’m too old for this shit lol. I don’t know why I ever started doing this but I wish I never had. I can’t remember a time I didn’t though. I hope one day I can stop, but I just don’t know if thats possible.

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  3. Self harm was my communication strategy. I thought I could shock my parents out of their self absorbed fantasy worlds. First, I tried winning their approval through performance to show them that I deserved responsible parents. Their response was to pat themselves on the back on what a good job they did raising me. Then I tried self-harm to get them to step up to the plate. I was hoping they would realize that one parent chasing the other each weekend from one adulterous affairs to another was not healthy. All their daughter wanted was a normal life without the threats, screaming and fighting. Their reaction was to take me to a shrink who said I needed to learn to meditate. My meltdowns, self-inflicted pain and anorexia almost killed me but never woke them up. The best I could do was grow up quick, leave, and try not to repeat their addictions.

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  4. After the language of “self-mutilation” fell out of favor in the late-90s, “self-injury” became the preferred term in the US and “self-harm” in the UK. (Hence the web search results you’re getting.)

    I think the heightened focus on young people and SI is less about youth being a population more likely to self-injure than others and more about the continued stigma related to the behavior. Research into this area has been hobbled for a long time by preconceptions: we know more about women who self-injure b/c women’s SI was more “visible” as such. (Razors against the thighs as opposed to breaking bones by punching a wall, for instance.) We now know more about adolescents who cut and burn b/c the “emo” concept makes it easier to recognize these behaviors in this population.

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