Although many people can understand anxiety or depression, many find someone causing intentional harm to themselves confusing. Because self-harm often appears traumatic and violent, it could look like an attempt at suicide. Individuals with an eating disorder may restrict, binge, purge, or over exercise, but self-harm is equally as damaging. Self-harm can be scary for the person who inflicts and heartbreaking for their loved ones. There are many factors involved in answering the question, “Why do people self-harm?”
Why Do People Self Harm?
Self-harm is also known as non-suicidal self-injury. It involves intentionally damaging the surface of your body without expecting fatal results. Whereas someone who tries to commit suicide is usually trying to stop feeling intense emotions, people who self-harm are often trying to make themselves feel better and alleviate the negative emotions or personal problems.
There are many reasons why this happens. Both eating disorders and self-harm can be a way to escape and relieve tension. Some people experience a chaotic buildup, and they don’t have constructive techniques for releasing that stress or anxiety. Self-harm is an immediate action that sometimes causes pleasant or euphoric feelings. Others have said it makes them feel mentally and emotionally good. But this bliss is merely temporary and is often followed by a sense of guilt or shame. However, the brain says that it feels good to take that kind of action, and thus the cycle continues.
Can self-harm be a way of physically expressing emotions?
When you’re in pain, it can be hard to find the right words to express yourself. Sometimes, an inability to manage emotions healthily can lead people to reach out physically. They may hurt themselves to document what they’re feeling inside. They might subconsciously feel as though showing that they’re in physical pain indicates that their internal pain is real and important. Maybe they’re even trying to punish themselves for thinking or acting a certain way.
On the other hand, self-injury may be used to numb emotions. It’s distracting, and it brings your focus to your physical body instead of the thoughts that are swirling around in your head.
Why do people self-harm? It could be a technique for dulling strong emotions by drawing attention to more tangible sensations.
It can be challenging to live in a world that is always changing. Some people have trouble feeling in control of their environments or their own emotions. Self-harm can be a way of exerting control. If you can’t regulate your internal pain, you can have power over physical pain by inflicting it on yourself.
Individuals with an eating disorder have an increased chance of engaging in self-harm behaviors. Self-harm commonly co-occurs with eating disorders and for some behaviors such as induced vomiting or compulsive exercising are a way to inflict self-injury.
Getting Help for Self-Harm
There are many reasons why people hurt themselves in these types of ways, including attachment disorders, abuse, trauma, and an attempt to find fulfillment. It can be scary to talk about self-harm but confiding in someone is the first step in getting help. Focus on sharing your feelings with them and help them to understand where you are coming from. You never have to feel pressured to share things you are not ready to talk about. At the same time, if someone does share their feelings about self-harm or ask for help, it is important to not be judgmental but to be supportive and listen. Talking about self-harm can be stressful for both parties and can be very emotional.
At Magnolia Creek, we understand. We offer evidence-based treatment designed to help our clients empower themselves through self-acceptance.
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If the question, “Why do people self harm?” has brought you to our website, you may find solace in one of our self harm treatment programs for women. Call us at 866-318-2329 to find out how we can help you grow the skills necessary for developing a well-rounded approach to long-term physical and psychological wellness.