A Conversation for Self Injury

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 1

Inanna has a theory - it could be bunnies.


There was an old guide entry on this, but a) it wasn't edited, and b) it doesn't seem to have reappeared after Rupert.

So as I think that this is something rather important, and that needs to be disseminated, I wrote my own. And hence this submission.

*offers smiley - choc while she waits for feedback to fly... *

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 2

Tube - the being being back for the time being

I definitely like it and I most definitely think that it should make it into the Guide. Wouldn't even need a subbing, IMHO. smiley - smiley Great entry ... and a necessary one.

I've seen a couple of self injurers, mostly female, as you indicated, at festivals over the years. Some with parallel horizontal same-depth cuts, a few millimeters apart running from wrist all the way up to ... well, the sleeve of the t-shirt (fascinating in a strange way: the determination. A calm determination; I shouldn't think one would inflict a very regular pattern of cuts while raging inside. Couldn't picture me this determined... smiley - erm )... and beyond, I should think. And some with cuts just crisscrossing over the arms in different depth. At first I wasn't sure whether the cuts were attention-getters, but after reading the entry it's clear to me that they're not. Thanks for that. smiley - smiley

Question: Would I be correct in thinking that displaying these cuts (or rather: not covering them up) when walking around festival with 10,000 + people indicates that the self injurer feels save/non-threatened/free in that environment?

Again: Great Entry! smiley - biggrin


A579297 - Self Injury

Post 3

Mikey the Humming Mouse - A3938628 Learn More About the Edited Guide!

While it may not be worth going into in this entry, it's worth pointing out (in response to the last poster, at least) that there *are* people out there for do engage in "cutting" behavior for attention or to show off. Not that these people aren't don't have mental health issues - they do -- but they're a completely different ball of wax than those associated with self-injury in this guide entry. It's apparently relatively common for those with something like borderline personality disorder to do something like Tube described (i.e., cut themselves in a readily visible location and then put themselves in a situation where many people will notice and comment).

I've also met members of a goth subculture that sees such systematic self-injury as an aesthetic, spiritual thing.


A579297 - Self Injury

Post 4


A very good article Innana, couldn't fault it and I learned something.

This should get into the edited guide with all speed.


A579297 - Self Injury

Post 5

Tube - the being being back for the time being

Sorry, Mikey, I failed to express myself clearly. I do not doubt that there are attention-getters out there; there always are, with any kind of behaviour.
I just assumed that this was the rule rather than the exception. But after reading the entry I realised that I never saw any 'cut' people in everyday life and or pubs/discos but just at festivals, which fits in with the entry, IMHO.
As for my description:
a) The cuts were in places were they could easily be covered up by wearing long sleeves.
b) I didn't see anybody commenting on the cuts. This might be due to the fact that these were Goth festivals were you are free to wear/show whatever you like without anybody commenting on it (unless they want to know were you bought the gear, or want to take a photo of you smiley - winkeye ).

In any case you are right, Mikey, there probably are some members of the goth scene who take it as an aesthetic device. smiley - smiley


A579297 - Self Injury

Post 6

Inanna has a theory - it could be bunnies.

Well, you're both right. If people feel safe in an environment, and accepted, then they may well wear short sleeves - or if they are at a place in their healing where they see their scars as nothing to be ashamed of ...

But self injury is also a part of Borderline Personality Disorder (and unfortunately, it has been used as a defining criteria, so that anyone who self harms is likely to end up with a BPD diagnosis, even if they don't meet ANY of the other defining symptoms) - and for people with BPD, a large part of their difficulties are in attention-getting and so on.

I think there's a real difference between the person who talks about it, will brag about their scars, self injure in public - the sorts of behaviours modelled by Ritchie Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers - and the people who self injure in private, where it's easily hidden, and that any scars seen may represent only a very small portion of their total self harming.

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 7

Monsignore Pizzafunghi Bosselese

In the Middle Ages there were people who felt The Plague was God's punishment and *they* were guilty, so they started scourging (sp?, my dict.org gives also 'flagellation' and 'lashing') themselves in the public. Is there any relation?

Really good Guide entry smiley - ok

Bossel (Scout)

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 8

Martin Harper

You should possibly mention that self injury isn't solely/always about cutting - eating disorders have been cited as sometimes being a type of self injury, for example, as has smoking and binge drinking. Less controversially, it can include things like popping spots, where the sufferer gouges out the slightest perceived blemish on their face with their fingernails - and there's more variety than that, I'm sure.

All in all - this is a great entry - better even that the one which is hidden that was previously in the guide. I particularly liked the quotes from Anna and Emily - they lend a real human side to the entry. btw, it'd be good to know not exactly who these two people are, but where you got their quotes from. Were they quoted in some other publication? Or did they say those words specifically to you (in person or online)?

> "It's a behaviour that's all too common among young people, male and female."

It's a teensy nitpick, but how many? Got stats? smiley - smiley Another equally tiny thing is that people usually use the phrase "coping mechanism" to describe S/I (and others) - which I presume is some kind of medical phrase? Or do I have that wrong?

Very good already - and I have a suspicion that it will be made better yet!

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 9

Just zis Guy, you know? † Cyclist [A690572] :: At the 51st centile of ursine intelligence

Nothing to add, but thanks for the entry - I learned something. Always improves my day when I learn something.

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 10

Lisa the Freak // Poet by the Toga

It does actually make you feel better.

Something to do with pain.. pain encourages the body to release pain-releaving hormomes, eg seretonin and endorphin, which are also the chemicals which keep you happy. That's why acupuncture works.

And stuffing your face with food rich in starch helps produce these same hormones.

I think. I've only done a tiny bit of research on that, so I'm not sure if it's 100%...

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 11

Martin Harper

The old guide entry on this topic has just reappeared: check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/h2g2/guide/A431957 and see what you can see... smiley - smiley

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 12

7rob7: Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)

Excellent article.

Lucinda's comments about the various forms of manifestation are exactly right. [I wish I didn't know from experience, but...]



A579297 - Self Injury

Post 13

Inanna has a theory - it could be bunnies.

The stats actually vary extremely widely, depending on which study you believe - and I'm sure that is due to different methodologies, subject selection criteria and so on. Walsh & Rosen found 14 per 100,000 while Favazza et al claim it's closer to 750 per 100,000. The women - men ratio similarly varies from 2:1 to 20:1, depending on sources and surveys. To me, as a scientist, that degree of variation makes the stats pretty useless, but I certainly could include them if it were felt that they'd make for a more complete article. I also have more stats on age of onset, and duration, from Lois Arnold's 1995 study, but that was on a very small population from Bristol, and again, is more 'illustrative' than generalisable from.

Anna and Emily are real people, albeit under pseudonyms, who were kind enough to let me use their words for this article (which is based on something I wrote for our college magazine).

I'll certainly add something about the various forms of si. I was trying not to get too 'graphic', as I find that many articles in magazines or some websites focus on the 'gosh, shock horror' of si, which is not the point at all, and is incredibly UNhelpful in trying to get people to understand more about the behaviour. I also didn't want to trigger anyone who does si, nor give them ideas.

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 14

Martin Harper

Well, it's a balancing act - but I think that it's often important for people to realise that their behaviour *is* self-injury, as this is part of the healing process. Seems that this is doable without making it an entry on How To Self Injure, which you rightly want to avoid... smiley - yuk

Might be worth mentioning that Anna and Emily are pseudonyms, and perhaps the country or state they are from. Makes it a bit more clear that they are real people, perhaps?

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 15

Inanna has a theory - it could be bunnies.

Various updates and changes made.


A579297 - Self Injury

Post 16


Really good entry. It is a scary theme but I think you have created a very non-dramatic entry. It explanes many things which I did not understand before.


A579297 - Self Injury

Post 17

Martin Harper

> "found the following frequency of behaviours"

perhaps "found the following frequency of behaviours, though the list is far from complete". A complete list would obviously be silly, and possibly over-graphic, but incompleteness should be mentioned...

Thee are a few bits and pieces from the other entry which you might want to grab. Typical onset at puberty, background of self injurers, multiple methods, common feelings of self-injurers, *may* lead to suicide&death, psychiatric illnesses, treatment - seem to be the main things. You may have reasons for not covering them, of course - and that's fine - but do tell us. You may wish to give a researcher credit to "American Pain Addict" if you do use any of hir writing...

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 18

Inanna has a theory - it could be bunnies.

Thanks for all your help and comments on this Lucinda.

My main reasons for not using the sort of info that American Pain Addict includes are:

1) Their entry exists. I'd rather compliment it than repeat it.
2) My aim is to try and explain some of the whys, not simply give statistics and information. While someone might learn academically from APA's article, I think that often...
3) ... a lot of what are quoted are generalisations. For every middle-class, white girl under pressure, there's a lower class mother on income support who also self injures. Statements like "the person seeking treatment is usually from a middle to upper class background, of average to high intelligence, and has low self-esteem" - lower class people may not be able to afford to seek treatment, or may not feel it worthwhile. What's 'average to high'? Does this confine self injury to the same 'college girl' clique of eating disorders? And if one doesn't have low self esteem, self injury is almost impossible to carry out. I'd assumed that was a given.
4) The emphasis on 'diagnoses' is a lot less in the UK health system than in the USA one, and hence not something I know much about. (Mainly because we don't have to deal with health insurance companies, who want EVERYTHING to have a label, hence the list of psychiatric conditions on APA's article). Again, I don't think it's helpful to put people into categories like that. This is also the policy of the National Self HArm Network - that 'self injury' is a symptom of emotional distress, and NOT a diagnosis.
5) Treatment methods vary from country to country, and within country, depending on facilities and resources available to each individual. And what I've found, as have other self injurers I've spoken to in the course of my research, is that "treatment for the self injury itself" is of limited use. Of greater use is anything that increases the person's self esteem, and gives them more healthy coping methods than hurting themselves.
6) I left out the suicide thing precisely because I didn't want to obscure the main message - that self injury is NOT about killing yourself. I have found this to be a common misperception amongst health professionals as well as the general public, and wanted to stress that si behaviour is a way of staying alive against what seem like overwhelming odds.

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 19

Inanna has a theory - it could be bunnies.

Oh - I also would rather not state that Arnold's list is "incomplete". This is her published research, and as far as she is concerned, for her study, that list covered ALL types of self injuring behaviour which she found in the 76 women surveyed.

I'm also curious as to what you think isn't covered by the categories listed?

A579297 - Self Injury

Post 20

Martin Harper

1) True - though it's not Edited, so you aren't really in competition with it... smiley - smiley

2) Fair enough. Ideally, I would like to see an entry cover *both*, but I think it's reasonable to concentrate on one or the other. There can always be later entries and updates, after all.

3) Of course, there's supposed to be a big link between clinical eating disorders and self injury - so it is perhaps unsurprising that they tend to affect the same types of people, in general. You suggest that low self esteem is a given - yes, it's obvious when you think about it - but many people will *not* have thought about it, so I think it might be worth mentioning explicitly. But see (2).

4) Understood, and entirely reasonable. I agree that categorisation is not helpful. A share the distaste of the effect of health insurance on medicine.

5) Excellent - *say this in the entry*!! I do like entries to talk about treatment - even if for some entries, sadly, this means writing a sentence to say "this is untreatable, though some pain relief can be given". smiley - blue

6) That's fair enough on suicide. What about the risk of accidental death or serious injury?

I'm certainly not suggesting you copy APA's style - just mentioning some of what he mentions. But I think your reasons make a lot of sense, and I'm entirely happy to trust your judgement on this.

smiley - popcorn

I agree that the list covered all types of self injuring behaviour in the 76 women - my comment was that those 76 women probably do not cover the entire gamut of self injuring behaviour by themselves.

As a couple of examples, APA mentions deliberate self-infection, and a few more extreme forms of self injury. I've had experience with someone who wore deliberately uncomfortable things as a form of self harm. {you'll understand if I tread very carefully around that}. My suspicion is that there are a wide range of self-injurious behaviour: as wide as there are methods of inflicting pain on oneself, in fact...

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