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An act of self-injury which might make sense if understood as a suicide attempt become all the more difficult to comprehend when the self-injurious person denies that they are trying to kill themselves and is telling the truth. What are they trying to accomplish when they harm themselves?The following list of 6 motivations seems to cover most of the common scenarios that people who self-injure describe.Sometimes an aspect of a person's chaotic internal experience is that feelings and thoughts build up a subjective state of tension or arousal that motivates people to do something to take action to reduce that tension or arousal.Cutting or burning one's self can, apparently, serve such a tension-reducing function. I read an account of a young woman who was consumed with suicidal thoughts which pushed her towards a compulsive feeling that she should end her life.This process of physical expression of inner experience is sometimes called "acting out." One rather impulsive and aggressive form of acting out involves inflicting wounds on one's self with the intention of using these physical wounds as a communications device.The idea is that there is some rough correspondence between easy-to-see self-inflicted physical wounds and internal and thus invisible emotional wounds.
People don't have good reference points to use so as to understand what motivates self-injury or what people who self-injure are trying to accomplish.Self-Injury (which occurs when someone cuts or burns or otherwise harms themselves) is one of the harder behaviors associated with mental illness for people to fathom.People mostly understand (I think) when someone becomes psychotic, gets stuck in a deep depression or has mood swings.Let's unpack these 6 reasons why people self-injure.
People sometimes harm themselves because by doing so, they are able to gain a subjective sense of control over chaotic internal emotions and thoughts.Particularly with regard to severe trauma and abuse, words fail to capture the magnitude of internal reactions.