Self-harm (also used in English – selfharm) – is the deliberate infliction of pain and harm, intentional damage to your body. People who have experienced violence and rape, who do not know how to deal with difficult emotions, can harm themselves. Make your inner pain visible.
In the international classification of diseases, selfharm includes not only cuts, burns, beatings, refusal to eat and water, hair pulling and skin tearing, but also intentional injuries in an accident or jump, excessive alcohol consumption, drug and medical use; this list also includes unsafe sexual contact.
Why do people self-harm?
They use physical pain as a way to suppress or distract from their emotions.
Sometimes a person feels that he may cry “inappropriately” – at work or in front of others. In this way, she relieves internal tension, so that being between people does not show their emotions.
Expression of emotions
When our emotions become too strong and too painful, it may seem that the inner “pot of soup” is about to boil.
Self-harm can be a way to alleviate this pain when you remove the lid from a pot of boiling soup, not only do you keep it from spilling, you make it visible. Make the pain visible.
Feelings of emotions
A person may be in complete emotional numbness, pain is a quick way to prove to ourselves that we can still feel and are still alive.
Feelings of shame or guilt can sometimes lead a person to believe that he deserves pain.
In addition to controlling emotions, self-harm can give a person a sense of control over their lives more widely.
After experiencing rape or other violence, victims usually fall out of control. By harming themselves, they may feel regained control of their lives, for example, by choosing how and when to harm themselves.
Whatever the cause of self-harm, it is a mechanism for overcoming severe feelings or the consequences of trauma.
If you find out that someone is intentionally harming yourself, what should you do?
Be calm, but take it seriously. It is a myth that people harm themselves for the sake of “attention”. In fact, many people who harm themselves try to hide it.
Understand that this is a method of overcoming trauma – and it does not automatically mean that a person is prone to suicide. In fact, for many people the opposite is true. They want to live, and this is their way of dealing with very difficult emotions.
Do not force yourself to stop immediately without helping the person to find another way to cope with difficult emotions. These emotions simply will not magically disappear, because the person has stopped doing self-harm.
Try to persuade the person to seek psychological help.
Depending on your relationship, say that you love her / him or care for her / him and are willing to support him / her.
Help find safer options for managing your emotions (art or art therapy, writing a diary or creative writing), and consult a specialist.