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Old July 16th, 2007, 11:13 AM  
Ancient Gmod
Whisper's Forum Picture
Name: Kodie
Join Date: June 30, 2004
Location: Van Island, BC
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Blog Entries: 4
Default Re: What exactly does it feel like?

  • Escape from emptiness, depression, and feelings of unreality.
  • Easing tension.
  • Providing relief: when intense feelings build, self-injurers are overwhelmed and unable to cope. By causing pain, they reduce the level of emotional and physiological arousal to a bearable one.
  • Relieving anger: many self-injurers have enormous amounts of rage within. Afraid to express it outwardly, they injure themselves as a way of venting these feelings.
  • Escaping numbness: many of those who self-injure say they do it in order to feel something, to know that they're still alive.
  • Grounding in reality, as a way of dealing with feelings of depersonalization and dissociation
  • Maintaining a sense of security or feeling of uniqueness
  • Obtaining a feeling of euphoria
  • Preventing suicide

  • Expressing emotional pain they feel they cannot bear
  • Obtaining or maintaining influence over the behavior of others
  • Communicating to others the extent of their inner turmoil
  • Communicating a need for support
  • Expressing or repressing sexuality
  • Expressing or coping with feelings of alienation
  • Validating their emotional pain -- the wounds can serve as evidence that those feelings are real

  • Continuing abusive patterns: self-injurers tend to have been abused as children.
  • Punishing oneself for being "bad"
  • Obtaining biochemical relief: there is some thought that adults who were repeatedly traumatized as children have a hard time returning to a "normal" baseline level of arousal and are, in some sense, addicted to crisis behavior. Self-harm can perpetuate this kind of crisis state
  • Diverting attention (inner or outer) from issues that are too painful to examine
  • Exerting a sense of control over one's body
  • Preventing something worse from happening
These reasons can be broadly grouped into three categories:
Affect regulation -- Trying to bring the body back to equilibrium in the face of turbulent or unsettling feelings. This includes reconnection with the body after a dissociative episode, calming of the body in times of high emotional and physiological arousal, validating the inner pain with an outer expression, and avoiding suicide because of unbearable feelings. In many ways, as Sutton says, self-harm is a "gift of survival." It can be the most integrative and self-preserving choice from a very limited field of options.

Communication -- Some people use self-harm as a way to express things they cannot speak. When the communication is directed at others, the SIB is often seen as manipulative. However, manipulation is usually an indirect attempt to get a need met; if a person learns that direct requests will be listened to and addressed the need for indirect attempts to influence behavior decreases. Thus, understanding what an act of self-harm is trying to communicate can be crucial to dealing with it in an effective and constructive way.

Control/punishment -- This category includes trauma reenactment, bargaining and magical thinking (if I hurt myself, then the bad thing I am fearing will be prevented), protecting other people, and self-control. Self-control overlaps somewhat with affect regulation; in fact, most of the reasons for self-harm listed above have an element of affect control in them.

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