Self Injurious Behavior – I Did That

What is self-injury?

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of oneself, self-inflicted destruction of body tissue resulting in immediate damage.

Self-Injury is also termed self-mutilation, self-harm or self-abuse.

Self-injury includes:

  • Cutting – I did that with a razor and scissors
  • Intentional carving of the skin – I did that with a razor
  • Subdermal tissue scratching – I have done that
  • Picking scabs or interfering with wound healing – I stated that behavior when I was a child and unfortunately I still pick scabs often and can’t seem to stop that behavior. I had no idea that was SIB
  • Burning oneself – I did that with a cigarette
  • Punching self or objects
  • Infecting oneself
  • Inserting objects in body opening
  • Bruising or breaking bones
  • Some forms of hair pulling
  • Other various forms of bodily harm
  • Banging or punching objects or oneself with the intention of hurting oneself
  • Embedding objects under the skin

I no longer engage in any form of self injurious behaviors. However, I do continue to pick my scabs often unfortunately to the point that they do leave scars sometimes. I began this behavior as a young child. There are even pictures of me picking my scabs as a child. I was unaware that it was a form of SIB until just recently.

Self-injury can be and is performed on any part of the body, but most often occurs on the hands, wrists, stomach and thighs.

The severity of the act can vary from superficial wounds to those resulting in lasting disfigurement.

Experts estimate the incidence of habitual self-injurers is nearly 1% of the population with a higher proportion of females than males

Self-injury is their way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings, and is generally not a suicide attempt.

Some people think that people that self injure do it just to get attention. This is not true.

Even if someone is engaging in self injurious behavior to seek attention, this is not a typical way to get attention and they are crying out for help. There is a reason someone is crying out for help in anyway that they choose to do it. Get them some professional help.

Self-harm behaviors, which pose serious risks, may be symptoms of several psychiatric illnesses that can be treated:

  • Personality Disorders
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression)
  • Major Depression
  • Anxiety Disorders (esp. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
  • Schizophrenia.

Treatment

Self-injury treatment options include:

  • Outpatient therapy
  • Partial (6-12 hours a day)
  • Inpatient hospitalization.
  • When the behaviors interfere with daily living, such as employment and relationships, and are health or life threatening, a specialized self-injury hospital program with an experienced staff is recommended.

 

Select Sources:

International Society for the Study of Self-injury. Definitional issues surrounding our understanding of self-injury. 2007. (http://itriples.org/index.html)

Laye-Gindhu, A. & Schonert-Reichl, K. A. (2005). Nonsuicidal self-harm among community adolescents: Understanding the “whats” and “whys” of self-harm. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 34, 447-457.

Whitlock, J, Muehlenkamp, J., Purington, A., Eckenrode, J., Barreira, J., Abrams, G.B., Marchell, T., Kress, K., Girard, K., Chin, C., Knox, K. (2011). Non-Suicidal Self-Injury in a College Population: General Trends and Sex Differences. Journal of American College Health, 59(8): 691-698.

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