Understanding SI
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Self-injury, also called self-harm, self-abuse, self-damage, and in its most broad and extreme cases, self-mutilation, is the act of purposefully and compulsively damaging the self, usually the skin. While acts of self-injury may at times result in death, these are not suicide attempts. Acts of self-injury include the following types of behaviors: cutting, scratching, burning, head banging, and hitting yourself with a hammer.

While psychiatrists disagree as to whether self-injury is a diagnosis in itís own right or a symptom of a disorder (such as borderline personality disorder), one thing is known, self-injurers suffer in silent shame and isolation. It is estimated that self-injurers comprise at least 1% of the population, with a higher proportion being female, and nearly half admitting to being victims of physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood. A significant number of self-mutilators also suffer from eating disorders, alcohol and/or substance abuse problems, personality disorders, and/or mood disorders. While each self-mutilator has a different story to tell, all share certain characteristics;
 
bulletThe self-harm behavior is recurrent.
bulletThe self-injurer experiences a mounting sense of fear, dread, anxiety, anger, or tension before the event.
bulletA sense of relief accompanies the event.
bulletA sense of deep shame follows.
bulletThe self-injurer attempts to cover-up any evidence (e.g. scarsÖ) of his/her act.
 

If you are a friend or relative of a self-injurer, there are ways in which you can help.

bulletShow concern for the personís inner turmoil and pain as well as for the injury itself.
bulletEncourage the self-injurer to come out of isolation and seek support groups and therapy.
bulletEncourage the person to explore and express the emotions behind their urge to self-harm.
bulletEncourage and applaud any steps taken by the self-injurer to break the cycle of self-harm.
bulletAbove all do not pass judgment.
 

If you are a self-injurer, come out of isolation. Join us on the BPW Forums, in the chat room, and or share your personal story. 

Please send personal stories to rednut@bipolarworld.net
 

Disclaimer:

The information provided in this section is intended solely for informational and support purposes and is not a substitute for medical evaluation, treatment or consultation.  Individuals with medical or personal problems are strongly urged to seek advice from physicians or mental health professionals.  Individuals who are being treated should not construe information here as replacing or superceding recommendations of their own clinicians.

The Partners and Advisors of Bipolar World are not professionals and can not give professional advice, diagnose, prescribe or in any way treat Bipolar Disorder and/or Self-Injury.

The information available here is readily available in other publications and some information is from personal experience of the writer.  While care has been taken to select information from reliable publications, no guarantee of the information selected may be made for the simple reason that we are not medical professionals.

 


 

Published 2002
 

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