08th March 2018


By Rachel Raditsebe -


In a state of emotional and psychological turmoil many of us display various behavioural manifestations. One such is self-harm, self-injury or self-mutilation. Self-harm is an intentional and deliberate infliction of injury to self with no intentions for a suicide act. This behaviour which may be addictive, is rampant in our society as even the late Princess Diana is reported by BBC to have in 1995 cut herself saying that, “you have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help.”

According to the World Health Organisation, anyone can self-harm but a greater incidence is amongst adolescents, with older adolescent girls mostly affected. Many sarcastically think that those who self-harm may snap out and don’t do it. Those who self-harm are usually trying to deal with distressing and difficult emotions hence a way of trying to cope. The truth however is that this is a true escape from emotional pain, albeit temporarily, which may be a symptom of some mental disorders like: Depression Borderline personality disorder Anxiety disorders Substance use disorders Eating disorders Conduct disorders Psychotic disorders with commanding auditory hallucinations Disturbed body image.

The following are common in self injurious behaviour; Hair pulling antics Skin piercing Bruising self purposefully Pricking wounds Cutting Hitting self against objects We must note that individuals who self-harm often have scars especially on arms and hence prefer long sleeved clothing. In the midst of the self-injurious episode, no physical pain is experienced and in fact emotional relief is prominent. here are a variety of measures to assist those who self-harm; Distraction techniques especially those doing it as a result of command hallucinations. Being placed on treatment may also be helpful to such individuals. Restoring self-esteem for those having a disturbed body image Encouraging individuals on expressing emotions and tensions verbally.


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