What do you imagine when you hear the phrase “self-injury?” If your first thought is a black garbed teenage girl who is “just trying to get attention,” then this list will surprise you. There is a lot of stigma surrounding the phenomenon of self-harm. Too often self-injurers are judged, ignored, or even mocked. When people do take it seriously, they often assume it is a suicidal gesture. Self-harm can affect virtually any demographic, for a vast number of reasons. Some people do hurt themselves in an attempt to end their lives, but most people who harm themselves don’t want to die.
I have intimate knowledge of self-harm. Though I did “cut” a little as a teenager, due mostly to peer influence, I did not begin the practice in earnest until I was an adult. It became a gesture to combat dissociative PTSD episodes. Next week, I will discuss the relationship between PTSD and self-harm, and my experiences with it. This week, I am providing an introduction to the baffling phenomenon of human self-injury with a research-based article outlining ten of the most common reasons science has discovered that people harm themselves.