What is Self Harm?
The phrase ‘self harm’ is used to describe a wide range of behaviours. Self harm is often understood to be a physical response to an emotional pain of some kind, and can be very addictive. Some of the things people do to self harm are well known, such as cutting, burning or pinching. But people also engage in ‘self destructive behaviours’ which puts them in harms way, such as getting into fights, having unprotected sex with multiple partners, not eating enough, or drinking too much alcohol.
Sometimes, it’s more important to focus on how someone is feeling rather than what they do to themselves. Quite often, people find that more helpful. Everyone has accidents from time to time resulting in cuts and bruises, but it's the injuries that are caused on purpose that are considered to be acts of self harm or destructive behaviour.
Self harm often happens during times of anger, distress, fear, worry, depression or low self-esteem in order to manage or control negative feelings.
Self harm and other forms of destructive behaviour can also be used as a form of self-punishment for something someone has done, thinks they have done, have been told by someone else that they have done, or perhaps something that they have allowed to be done to them.
Anything that causes you harm – even slight harm – which in some small way makes you feel better emotionally, can fall under the umbrella of self-harm and destructive behaviour. The important thing isn’t to focus too much on the labelling, but to recognise when help is needed and find some support as soon as possible.
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