Harming is the action of injuring or damaging something. Self-harming is the action of intentionally injuring or damaging oneself. There are numerous ways to self-harm; the more popular ways of doing so are cutting, burning, punching oneself or throwing oneself at hard surfaces. In most cases a person that is self-harming is usually in a state of high emotional distress. The act can be premeditated but also can become an impulsive behavior. Overtime the behavior becomes an addiction and increasingly harder to stop. Becoming addicted to pain may seem impossible however it happens more than most expect. About one in ten young people will self-harm at some point during adolescents. Harming can start at any age to anyone. Most harmers keep their behavior a secret and do not look for help, this makes finding the popularity in the action hard to determine.
People who self-harm are struggling with intolerable distress or difficult situations. Common problems that lead to harm are abuse, depression, poor body image, relationship problems, and unemployment. The feelings associated with harm are hopelessness, isolation, lack of power, and sadness. Feelings are replaces with the pain from harming. Self-harming can help the person feel in control and reduces feelings of tension and distress. It has been scientifically proven that while harming the brain releases endorphins to cause a feeling of happiness. Ironically causing pain to the body is a natural emotional pain killer. It can also be used to punish oneself to relieve feelings of guilt and anger. For these reasons the intentional pain is a coping method, similar to the way a person may cry and feel better afterwards.
People become reliant on the behavior of self-harm as a coping method, it may not be the healthiest way of doing so and may just be a temporary fix but it works. If it didn’t work at all people would not do it and many would not become addicted to doing so however about one in three people who self-harm for the first time will do it again during the following year. Almost as if it were a drug, self-harmers become dependent on the quick fix of harm and feel the need to do it to get through daily problems. Becoming dependent creates a huge problem when trying to stop, the person goes through withdrawal depression and relapsing is very easy. It also often turns into a compulsive behavior that can seem impossible to stop.
A large portion of people who do self-harm often begin to question the point of stopping. Harming can become a person’s only way of relieve the problems but it comes at a cost. The temporary fix causes more problems in the long term than it solves. The relief is usually followed by new feelings of shame from the harming. The feeling of shame from doing so causes the person to also hide the behavior from family and friends making the person isolated from the rest. Keeping the behavior in secret causes for less safe ways of harming for example using old razors with rust to cut oneself because it is the easiest to get and hide. Also keeping it a secret leads to ignoring when the injury would need medical attention and only letting an infection get worse.
Shame and guilt are feelings that are created after self-harming. A method that helps relieve bad feelings shouldn’t bring about other new bad feelings. The person starts feeling the shame due to the stigmas that are associated with people who harm. The majority of people do not understand self-harm, therefore there are many myths created about the topic. Most think people who self-injure are crazy and dangerous. This is completely false. Many people who harm suffer from anxiety, depression, or trauma. Self-injury is their way of coping and labeling people as insane only creates these feelings of guilt that creates an increase in anxiety or worse depression. It is not helpful. Being told constantly to stop the behavior also increases to the guilt and is not at all helpful. Another big myth associated with self-harm is that people who do it are suicidal. The intention of self-harm is not to kill oneself and majority of those who do so do not want to die. They are coping, not giving up.
Self-harm and suicide are often grouped together and referred to as the same. Although a large portion of people who have committed suicide were previous self-harmers, the majority of those who harm do not want to kill themselves. There is a risk when cutting to accidently cut too deep or sever a major vein but these account for only two percent of total suicides. Dying from self-harm is not easy, if the goal is to die then a person would use a different method such as hanging or a gun. Self-harm has the benefit of delaying suicide. The relief from the emotional pain calms the person before they do anything radical.
Self-harm is a misunderstood behavior that many people are not informed about. Everyone sees all the bad side effects of it such as scars and depression but there are benefits. These benefits may come at a cost but self-harm can still show to have some good. If it didn’t people wouldn’t do it.
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Rose, Synthia L., and Lauren Fritsky. “What Is the Connection Between Self-Harm and Addiction?” WiseGeek. Conjecture, n.d. Tues. 23 Apr. 2013. <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-connection-between-self-harm-and-addiction.htm>
Smith, Melinda. “Cutting and Self-Harm.” : Self-Injury Help, Support, and Treatment. N.p., Jan. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm>