Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Self Injury Awareness Day 2017

This is an extract from my empirical project I started at uni. Unfortunately I never got a chance to finish it. 

I would love for everyone to have a better understanding of self harm and the purpose it serves for people like myself. I will continue to challenge the stigma surrounding self harm on a personal level. 

I wanted to do this project to help myself understand more about my self injury and put myself in a better position to educate others. I no longer feel the guilt I did for harming myself. I have come to accept that it is as much a part of me as my arm or leg.

If anyone wants to read any journal articles about self harm and the functionality of it, please do drop me a message.


Self-injury is known by many different terms. Self-harm, none suicidal self-injury, self-mutilation are to name but a few of the terms used. The DSM-IV lists self-injury only as a condition for further study.

The term “self-mutilation” occurred in a study by Emerson in 1913. Emerson considered cutting a symbolic substitution for masturbation. The term then reappeared in an article written by Karl Menninger in 1935 who classified self-injury into 6 different categories:

neurotic – nail-biters, pickers, extreme hair removal and unnecessary cosmetic surgery.
religious – self-flagellants and others.
puberty rites – hymen removal, circumcision or clitoral alteration.
psychotic – eye or ear removal, genital self-mutilation and extreme amputation
organic brain diseases – which allow repetitive head-banging, hand-biting, finger-fracturing or eye removal.
conventional – nail-clipping, trimming of hair and shaving beards. 

It was only after the 1970s that the focus of self-injury shifted from Freudian psycho-sexual drives of the patients.

The most common form of self-injury is cutting. This is present in around 70% of cases of self-injury.

Self-Injury is still very much a taboo subject with many self-injurers being branded as ‘attention seekers’ amongst other things. The actual fact is that most self-injurers will go to great length to hide their injuries and are usually only discovered by accident. One of the most frequent questions raised in relation to self-injury is; Why? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not so simple. The purpose of self-injury can, however, can be divided into two main categories: to communicate and to calm or subdue strong emotions. 

Briere & Gill stated that approximately 4% of the general population have a reported history of self-injury. This is only the percentage of the population who have reported a history of self-injury. The actual figure is very likely to be higher. Klonsky, Oltmanns & Turkheimer reported the same figure in their study of 1,986 military recruits. 

References for further study
American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed. Text rev.)
Briere J, Gil E (1998) Self-mutilation in clinical and general population samples: prevalence, correlates, and functions. Am J Orthopsychiatry 68:609–620
Emerson, L. E. (1913), "The case of Miss A: A preliminary report of a psychoanalysis study and treatment of a case of self-mutilation", Psychoanalytic Review (William A. White, MD & Smith Ely Jelliffe, MD): 41–54

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