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;
|The self-harm behavior is recurrent.|
|The self-injurer experiences a mounting
sense of fear, dread, anxiety, anger, or tension before the event.|
|A sense of relief accompanies the event.|
|A sense of deep shame follows.|
|The 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.
|Show concern for the personís inner
turmoil and pain as well as for the injury itself.|
|Encourage the self-injurer to come out of
isolation and seek support groups and therapy.|
|Encourage the person to explore and
express the emotions behind their urge to self-harm.|
|Encourage and applaud any steps taken by
the self-injurer to break the cycle of self-harm.|
|Above 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
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.