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People hurt themselves in a number of ways, the most common probably being cutting. Others may hit themselves or any other number of things. This can be understood as a maladaptive coping strategy, where the physical pain inflicted is used to mask the psychological pain. Repeated self-injury demonstrates that one's coping resources are insufficient to deal with their stressors and clearly shows the need for immediate psychological and/or psychiatric evaluation. If you have a family member or close friend, insist on them being seen ASAP. This needs to be non-negotiable.
An excellent book with Loads of information and tools for people to use is Freedom from self-harm. Overcoming Self-Injury with Skills from DBT and Other Treatments (2009) by Kim Grantz, PhD and Alexander Chapman, PhD. Good overview of DBT as well as other treatment options specifically for self-harm. Unfortunately, relatively few studies have been done on people who self-harm. They list a number of functions of self-harm:
1. To feel better. As this works for many, there is reinforcement of the pain diminishing
(negative reinforcement). For some, self-harm can be similar to a compulsion or even
2. Distraction. This means that there is a shift away from the psychic pain.
3. Express feelings. Some people find this the only way to express themselves.
4. Release negative emotions and tension.
5. To punish oneself.
6. To end dissociation. Some people dissociate when their emotional circuits become
overloaded. Self-harm brings some people back to the here and now.
7. To get a rush or high. For some, self-harm can be exciting or even invigorating.
8. To communicate to other people. One study showed that over half of the people list
this as one of the reasons they self-harm.
If YOU self-harm, look at the above functions and see which are reasons why you self-harm. This can lead to exploring new ways to distract, express yourself, and otherwise manage your feelings.
Click on this link for additional understanding of this problem as well as to get self-help suggestions and strategies to deal with urges to self-injury:
Self-harm IS Treatable. Ask for help, if you can't stop on your own.
DON'T Give Up!
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