What is self-injury? Self-injury is defined as an act of causing injury to ones own body with the use of an object like knife and laser, arrows and panga among others. Self-injury is in other words referred to as self-abuse, self-mutilation, self-inflicted violence and Para suicide.
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Self-injury behavior include burning, cutting, hair pulling, scratching, biting, hitting, self-poisoning, wound interference and branding.. Self-harm is a global issue because its incidences have grown with a blistering pace. Many people all over the world indulge in activities that result to self-harm.
Psychologists have evidence that self-harm is many individuals in the society do not diagnose a relational disorder thought it. It has been evident that self-injury forms 40% of every suicide. 80% of the youth are victims of self-injury disorder and it is common in developing nations.
People have raised concerns about whether self-harm is a disorder or a habit. Scientists say a habit is next to nature. Therefore, for those considering self-harm as habit, it should have originated from the nature or their ways of living (Eagen, 2010).
Theories of self-injury
There are two theories that are considered critical because they explain the causes of self-injury among the individuals and there implication in the society. These theories include the psychodynamic and behavioral theories.
This theory perceives self-injury as an attempt to distinguish between ego boundaries. According to this theory, many people embark into the use of self-injury as a mechanism of defense. Victims of self-injury consider it as a rational disorder that plays a key role in their lives because it acts as a source of relief.
They consider cutting, hair pulling, burning branding and scratching among others as viable avenues through which they could relief from pain that has been caused by painful memories or stressful situations in their lives. In this regard, psychodynamic theory argues that people who self-mutilate do it in the notion that they are overcoming sexual conflicts.
Thus why psychodynamic theorists describe self-mutilation as a resourceful mechanism mainly made to deal with sexual conflicts in people lives (Eagen, 2010).
Its purpose is to focus on the maintenance of self-injury rather than its cause or origin. Under behavioral theory, there are two types of theories associated with self-injury. For instance, the positive reinforcement theory that suggests that self-injury is maintained by social reinforcements that are positive.
For example if a person is faced by painful situation, he or she must develop means through which he or she could cope with the situation rather than indulging into self-injury activities. Negative reinforcement theory which is a crucial theory suggests that people self-injurer them in order to avoid stressful situations in their lives. For instance, a police officer may hit his or her eye to avoid being allocated duty.
Child may decide to hit his or her head against the crib wall in order to avoid sleeping in the crib. Child’s head banging behavior in this case will play key role in child’s live since it allow him or her from sleeping in the crib. Behavioral theory argues that self-injury disorder is learnt by the individual but not inherent because it is not linked to individual genetic make-up.
Is self-injury a rational disorder?
Victims of self-injury may argue that it is a rational disorder but this is not the case. It is quite unreasonable to practice self-injury as a way to avoid stressful situations in life. People should learn how to adapt to whichever situation in their lives. There is no reason why some people should indulge into the practice of self-injury.
Those people who fall victims of self-injury are therefore considered unable to regulate their feelings or emotions. Normal person should learn how to overcome such weird situations by taking control of their emotions and this states why self-injury is not a rational disorder because it interferes with individuals’ well being (Babiker & Arnold, 1997).
Several studies are evident that self-injury emanates from individuals belief system. Victims of self-harm consider it as a viable means through which they could express their deep distress and adapt with the painful memories in their lives. Some examples of self-harm include cutting one’s self, taking poison, committing suicide such as jumping from top buildings among others.
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People believes that, when they harm themselves they will open new avenues into which they could mouth out or express their deep distress hence are being able to cope with painful memories prevailing in their lives.
Is self-injury addiction? Self-harm is addictive because those people who have attempted it before would later fall victims. The implication is that those people who have attempted self-harm are more prone to it compared to those who never practiced it. The fact with self-injury is that many people die of self-injury although intention of self-harmers is not directed at death.
The society considers self-injury as an accident in the general sense but professionals have gone further to perceive self-injury as a disorder. Psychiatrics argue that every individual is prone to self-injury because they can experience harsh or tough situations that may lead to trauma among other (Gratz & Chapman, 2009).
According to Gratz & Chapman (2009), psychiatrics believe that although self-injury is a disorder, it is very different from a mental disorder meaning that those people who indulge in self-harm are not mentally disabled. The point is people with trauma are said to be the victims of self-injury.
Who is it that lives with self-injury? Psychological trauma has been regarded as the fertile ground for self-injury disorder mostly evident among the youth. Any psychological or emotional injury emanating from a life situation that is more threatening or extremely stressful is considered to give rise to self-injury among individuals in the society.
For instance, accident, external attacks, failures to achieve ones goals in life among others are some of the factors that contributes to self-injury. Youth as mentioned are more prone to self-injury because they lack the aspect of patience in their lives. They are too emotional compared to the elderly and thus why they find it difficult to cope with stressful situations in their lives (Gratz & Chapman, 2009).
Terminal illness such as Aids has been considered resourceful in the emergence of self-injury disorder to many people in the society. HIV/Aids are one of the painful moments an individual can experience in life. Many individuals who are HIV positive believe that their lives have no value hence self-injury would bring meaning their life.
It is quite difficult to detect self-injurers because they tend to hide their shames and guilt by keeping their injuries secret. Scars from bruises, cigarette burns and cuts on the chest, wrists, thighs and arms can simply portray an act of self-injury among individuals.
Form several researchers conducted based on self-injury issue it has been evident that many drunkards are more prone to self-injury because the drugs alter their emotions. They can act out of emotions hence resulting to the practice of self-injuries (D’Onofrio, 2007).
Why do people turn to self-injury?
There are different ways through which people could injure themselves. One of such ways include when people are unable of managing their emotions. Another way is when a person found it difficult to cope with the painful moments using healthier means.
People turn into self-injury because they are incapable of figuring out the role of function served by the self-injury. People who live with self-injurers found it difficult to accommodate them because they do not actually understand what motivates self-injurers to harm themselves. It is a merciful incidence to witness someone harming him or her in your presence.
It is quite ambiguous to seduce a person to change his or her ways of reactions to certain situations because u cannot trace in fully what accompanies his or her reactions and thus why self-injurers are neglected or ignored in the society. Only psychologists would play key role in saving the lives of self-injurers. There are different ways through which self-injury disorder can be treated.
Some people thought that it is impossible to get out of self-injury cycle but there couple of ways though which an individual can stop from being a victim of self-harming (Walsh, 2008).
Home treatment/ personal treatment
The road to recovery can sometimes be perceived as being bumpy but with one’s reflections and assistance from friends, relatives and professionals, an individual can overcome the disorder. The first step involves one’s decision to stop self-injury.
An individual in this case is responsible for his or her own health by deciding to change his or her life. A person should ask him/herself why he/she wants to stop self-injury. This would be made easier by examining one’s motivations for quitting self-injury. By so doing an individual will be able to understand the importance of stopping self-injury through the healing process.
A person should set time for quitting such behavior because this will help him or her prepare the mind prior to the actual treatment. The other thing involves confiding in someone about your problem although it will not sound better to many people who have kept the injuries for long.
It is so much haunting to mouth to others what ones have been hiding for quiet long period. One should find out a trust worth person who can never spread the information to others people because it is more personal than public. It is important for self-injurers to recognize their problems because this is the only way they can fight it to the end.
The problem with self-injurers is that they have the mentality that other people are against their actions or behavior. Through such beliefs, it has become extremely difficult to save dear friends from self-injury disorder. Studies have showed that the best way to approach self-injury disorder is by regulation of emotions.
Some people are emotionally challenged, an act that makes them victims of self-injury. They are too emotional hence being unable to regulate them emotions when faced by painful moments or stressful situations in their minds (Hyman, 1999).
Professional treatment of self-injury
Professional treatment of self-injury involves the intervention of trained therapists who are responsible in enabling the victims to get to the root of why they self-injure. Other treatments include family therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy, hypnosis and group therapy. Counseling psychologists are very critical professionals when it comes to the treatment of traumas (Hyman, 1999).
The self-injurers will be counseled and advise on how to deal with stressful situations rather than turning into self-injury as means to cope with such situations. Psychologists’ counselors introduce the victim into other viable means of fighting trauma. Some people thought that psychologists’ counselors use medicine to treat self-injury disorder.
There are steps involved in fighting self-injury disorder by psychologists’ counselors. The first step involves examining the origin of the disorder, second the frequency of the disorder to the victim, thirdly what motivates the victim to indulge into self-injury, what triggers the memory of the incidence. For instance, an accident survivor screeching of breaks by a vehicle would trigger the memory and remind him or her of the accident then he or she would embark on cutting him or her as a way to cope with the accident scene.
Self-injury as discussed within the context of the study is not a mental disorder but a disorder by itself. Many people became victims of self-injury disorder because they cannot regulate their emotions. They are too emotional such that when something weird occurred in their lives they cannot bear the pain hence the developed other awkward behavior that include self-injury.
This disorder does not require a medicine to cure it because it emanates from psychological trauma. People themselves can be professional doctors in curing the disorder. It only depends on ones decision to stop it or to continue practicing it. Psychologists’ counselors are the only professionals known in the treatment of self-injury disorders. They counsel self-injurers thus changing their ways of life (D’Onofrio 2007).
Babiker, G. & Arnold, L. (1997). The Language of Injury: Comprehending Self-Mutilation. London: Wiley-Blackwell.
D’Onofrio, A. (2007). Adolescent self-injury: a comprehensive guide for counselors and health care professionals. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Eagen, R. (2010). Cutting and Self-injury, Volume 4. Washington. Dc: Crabtree Publishing Company.
Gratz, K. & Chapman, A. (2009). Freedom from Self-Harm: Overcoming Self-Injury with Skills from DBT and Other Treatments. Mary land: New Harbinger Publications.
Hyman, J. (1999). Women living with self-injury. United Kingdom: PublisherTemple University Press
Walsh, W.B. (2008). Treating Self-Injury: A Practical Guide. London: Guilford Press.