Self-harm is purposely performing a behavior or action with which you harm yourself ; such as: cutting your thighs or forearms, burning your skin, hitting yourself, scratching yourself with your nails, etc. These actions can become so negative and serious that they leave visible marks on the body and even endanger the person’s life.

On many occasions these behaviors are related to a suicide attempt, but it does not have to be the case, it is more, generally the person who self-injures, inflicts this damage with the intention of making an internal pain physical or facing a problem emotional, such as: frustration, very intense anger, etc.

Why are there people who resort to self-harm?

People resort to self-inflicted damage, because despite what one might think, this type of behavior provokes in the body a momentary feeling of control , tranquility, pleasure, release of tension, etc; at the moment they are made. However, these positive feelings last for a very short period of time, and are followed by feelings of guilt, shame, and disgust, among many others.

One of the problems with these behaviors is that after experiencing the instant of pleasure they generate, the person can become addicted, so to speak, to self-harm. Feeling the need to hurt themselves when they are emotionally unwell and unable to turn to other healthier ways to manage their frustration.

What is the cause of self-harm?

There is no cause in itself to injure themselves, generally people who resort to self-harm is because they lack healthy methods with which to deal with psychological suffering. For this reason, through self-inflicted pain, they aim to:

– Reduce the anxiety they feel, anguish, anger or emotional excess to which they are subjected.

– Punish themselves for something they believe they have done wrong, that is, they make themselves suffer as a method of punishment.

– If they feel empty, they try to feel something, even pain, to feel alive.

– Feel the internal pain they present in a physical way, being in this way easier to manage and control.

– Distract yourself from the external problems that surround you.

– Take control of your own life, what you feel, your emotions, your body, etc.

– Make it visible so that others know the pain they are feeling.

Who can self-harm?

Everyone can cause self-harm, but it must be borne in mind that there are situations that make the person or not more susceptible to this type of behavior . Some of the risk factors that can affect and have connection can be:

– Age : adolescence being a time of profound changes that generate fear, anxiety, stress, social pressure, etc.

– Health : Mental illnesses in many cases are the reason for self-harm, such as: depression , anxiety, a personality disorder, etc.

– Substance consumption and drug abuse : These affect the way of managing problems, understanding reality, etc.

– The environment in which they live: since if a person does not have healthy references on how to face problems, they can resort to self-harm.

What form of self-harm are there?

It could be said that there are thousands of ways to self-harm, since it is only enough that the behavior to be carried out causes some type of physical pain to the person. However, some of the methods that are most used when we talk about self-harm are:

– Making cuts on the wrists: generally the person begins by making superficial cuts with a blade or a knife, but as they see that their anxiety calms when making them, they will gradually make them deeper, even damaging important areas .

– Carry out burns : As a general rule on the hands, wrists and thighs. This behavior is carried out with matches, lighters, very hot metals, cigarettes, etc.

– Scratching on the arms, face, legs, etc: Another method widely used by people who engage in self-injurious behaviors is scratching, scratching themselves so brutally that they make deep wounds.

– Hitting yourself or punching yourself : hitting yourself is also a widely used method when it comes to self-harm.

– Pulling out hair, piercing areas of the body with sharp objects, opening wounds, biting, etc.

It should be borne in mind that these types of actions are generally carried out in private, when they are alone or alone and no one is watching them, but there have been cases of people who self-harm in public so that people see that they are feeling pain or to create links between them.

How can I detect that someone is self-harming?

Detecting a self-injury is difficult, for this it is necessary to observe the behavior of the person carefully and take into account several aspects , which can help us to know if someone is self-inflicting harm. Some of these data are:

– Wear long sleeves even in hot weather, in order to cover scars or wounds on the wrists. In the case of girls it is more difficult since they can resort to bracelets, watches, etc. In any case, it is important to see if you keep that area covered constantly, avoid contact with it or do not let anyone look at it.

– Hide sharp , pointed objects that can cause burns, etc., in the room, thus having them within reach when they are alone in it.

– Make gestures of pain when someone touches your thigh, grabs your wrist, etc. As well as avoiding undressing in front of anyone, going to the pool or beach, wearing shorts, etc.

It should be noted that each person is different and may or may not carry out these attitudes. The recommended thing is that if you have doubts and you think that someone in your environment may be self-injuring, talk to him and go to a specialist, he will know what to do and if the person is really hurting himself.

What are the symptoms of a person who injures himself?

Self-harm can be carried out by various aspects, from depression, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, eating disorder, etc; even paranoia. However, as a general rule, people who self-harm show a type of symptoms in common:

– Lack of methods to manage their feelings and emotions , especially the inability to control their frustration.

– Low self-esteem and low mood 

– Difficulty maintaining intrapersonal relationships.

– Impulsiveness and emotional instability .

– Lack of examples with which to overcome problems.

– Feeling of self-disgust, hatred, helplessness or hopelessness.

– Excess pressure on them, whether at a psychological level, such as family, work, etc.

– On a physical level they present bruises, scars, wounds, burns, etc. 

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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