This research paper dives into the details of five separate articles that report on the social issue of self-harm. The research was conducted both on and off-line, the off-line research being surveys given to a class of high school students. This paper will explain what self-harm is, the causes, the effects, and the treatment that can be used to help if not cure self-harm. Contrary to belief, cutting is not the only type of self-harm, unfortunately there are several ways one can hurt themselves in a non-suicidal manner. Burning, scratching, hitting, preventing wounds from healing, and bone breaking are all considered to be parasuicidal (injurious behavior without suicidal intent) actions. The articles suggest that self-injurious behavior is an impulse control disorder that is comparable to an addiction such as cocaine or heroin. It is also suggested that self-injurious behavior disorders can be treated, and the victim of the addiction can go on to live a normal life as they learn to control their overwhelming impulses to harm themselves.
Self-Harm: Acceptance, and Treatment.
One in every four people have self-injured at some point in their life, and one in every three teens in high school self-harm, (DeVito, Julie 2011). That means that in a school of eight-hundred students there are two-hundred-sixty-four students that have, or will partake in self-harm. Since social media has increased the awareness of self-harm, those who already self-harm are becoming more afraid to reach out for help. With suicide on the rise as well, it is often assumed that anyone who self-harms, or who has self-harmed, intends to commit suicide. This leads to checking those who self-harm into a psych ward, which causes more problems than the act itself. Our society must adapt and be more willing to accept those who self-harm. If it does not change, then people will continue to treat self-harm as a punishable act rather than the addiction that it really is. People who self-harm need to know that they are accepted, that it is ok to ask for help, and there is a better way to cope with their pain.
“People cut or self-harm to get attention. People that self-harm are suicidal. People that self-harm are crazy and dangerous!” These three sentences are three of the most common misconceptions of self-harm. “Deliberate self-harm is defined as the intentional injuring of one’s own body without apparent suicidal intent (Parasuicide).” (Klonsky, Oltmanns, & Turkheimer 2003). The fact that so many people in our society do not understand the true nature of self-harm is a substantial part of the issue itself. Most of the population believes all self-harm to be a suicide attempt, or that anyone who does self-harm needs to be put in a psych ward. These ideas do not help anyone or anything whatsoever. The problem with our society is that everyone has an opinion about everything, even if they truly have no real information on the subject, such as self-harm. In a survey it was found that a good majority of the voters agreed that they look down upon those who self-harm, and it is a very ignorant cry for attention that is a completely unnecessary act. If more people were to have truthful knowledge of this nightmare that some live in, it most likely would not be as much of a dilemma in our society.
The devil you know is better than the one that you do not. This is an expression that most self-harmers understand very well, it connects greatly to the “pain or no pain” factor of self-harm. For many, self-harm is a physical release from emotional pain, physical pain eventually subsides, whereas in their eyes emotional may not. This is a common reasoning in a self-harmers mind to justify what they are doing to their body. Emotional pain is often unexplained in its nature, therefore causing much confusion in a young mind, which in turn causes more problems than the emotional pain itself. In an article written by McCarton Ackerman, there was an interview of a young girl, Alexa, and she had described her self-harm as an addiction. “When i’m in a lot of emotional pain, I get lost and disassociated. Cutting calms me down and brings me back into reality. It’s very similar to smoking cigarettes...” (2012). Alexa ended up in the hospital multiple times within that year to have her wounds stitched up. She had developed an impulse-control disorder (ICD), which is what those in the medical field consider self-harm to be. This term (ICD) is defined as the inability to resist acting on impulse and is often characterized by the intentional harming of oneself. (Ackerman 2012).Cutting (the most common form of self-harm) releases endorphins in the brain as the act is committed, which creates the “feel good effect” that most drug addicts have while using narcotics, and like a narcotic it can create a powerful addiction that is very difficult to break. Instead of being treated for their problem, most self-harmers are met with disdain from their peers, leading to them hiding their behavior (such as wearing long sleeve shirts) which can cause wounds to fester. As a result, this continues to create more problems to be solved for the self-harmer.