Self injury, also called self-harm, self-mutilation, or simply cutting, is defined as any intentional injury to one's own body. Usually, self-injury leaves marks or causes tissue damage. Self-injury can involve any of the following behaviors:
Your heart pounds, your palms sweat, and you begin to tremble. These physical reactions to danger put your body on high alert. But if you're gripped with fear when there is little or no real danger, like when you're on a plane taxiing down a runway to take off, the real culprit may be anxiety.
"Anxiety is a world-class bluffer. It bluffs people into thinking they're in danger when they're really not," says Martin N. Seif, PhD, a psychologist in New York City and Greenwich, Conn., who co-founded...
Individuals who were often raised in families that discouraged expression of anger
Individuals who lack skills to express their emotions and lack a good social support network
What Leads to Self-Injury?
Self-injury usually occurs when people face what seem like overwhelming or distressing feelings. It can also be an act of rebellion and/or rejection of parents' values and a way of individualizing oneself. Sufferers may feel that self-injury is a way of:
Temporarily relieving intense feelings, pressure, or anxiety.
Being a means to control and manage pain - unlike the pain experienced through physical or sexual abuse or trauma.
Providing a way to break through emotional numbness (the self-anesthesia that allows someone to cut without feeling pain).
Asking for help in an indirect way or drawing attention to the need for help.
Attempting to affect others by manipulating them, trying to make them care, trying to make them feel guilty, or trying to make them go away.
Self-injury also may be a reflection of a person's self-hatred. Some self-injurers are punishing themselves for having strong feelings that they were usually not allowed to express as children. They also may be punishing themselves for somehow being bad and undeserving. These feelings are an outgrowth of abuse and a belief that the abuse was deserved.
Although self-inflicted injury may result in life-threatening damage, it is not considered to be suicidal behavior.