Home Psychology 6 Myths About Self-Harm | Psychology At this time

6 Myths About Self-Harm | Psychology At this time

6 Myths About Self-Harm | Psychology At this time


Once you hear “self-injury,” what do you consider? As a self-harm researcher and skilled in dialectical habits remedy (DBT), I’ve heard individuals say a number of inaccurate issues about self-injury. Sadly, these false beliefs trigger hurt.

Misconceptions that self-injury is all the time “manipulative” or “consideration-seeking,” that it is a ethical failing, or that it is “only a teenage part” can set off disgrace in individuals who self-injure. They usually dissuade individuals from getting psychological well being remedy that might assist. It’s vital that we cease viewing and speaking about self-injury in these incorrect and problematic methods.

In honor of Self-Harm Consciousness Month, let’s tackle six widespread myths about self-injury.

What’s Self-injury?

When individuals say “self-injury” or “self-harm,” they’re normally referring to nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). NSSI is deliberately participating in behaviors that you realize (or hope) will hurt your physique with out the intent for these behaviors to kill you.

Whereas many individuals solely consider chopping once they consider NSSI, self-injury can take numerous different kinds: hitting, burning, biting, banging, scratching, or purposefully getting your self into conditions the place you hope to get damage. Folks can self-injure anyplace on their our bodies.

Fable 1: Self-Harm Is Immature or Manipulative Consideration-seeking.

Tradition usually paints individuals who self-injure as “performing out.” Many individuals who self-injure, nonetheless, consciously and repeatedly attempt to disguise their self-injury from others to keep away from the stigma that surrounds self-injury. Analysis additionally constantly exhibits that the most typical purpose that individuals have interaction in self-injury is to handle stress, overwhelm, or in any other case deal with emotional ache [1].

In fact, some individuals do self-injure to speak their ache to others or with the hope that their self-injury will get them out of social obligations. Nevertheless, these individuals usually use self-injury as communication as a result of they haven’t been taught interpersonal abilities or have beforehand been ignored or invalidated when making an attempt to specific their wants in different methods.

Fable 2: Self-Harm Is the Identical as Suicidal Habits. Folks Who Self-injure Need to Die.

As described above, the definition of NSSI particularly excludes any self-harming behaviors from which somebody hopes they may die. Many individuals who self-injure battle with ideas of suicide, and NSSI is among the strongest predictors of suicidal habits [2].

However, many individuals who self-injure have by no means tried suicide, and many individuals who self-injure have by no means had suicidal ideation or want to die. It is also doable for somebody to unintentionally trigger extra bodily injury to their our bodies than they intend when self-injuring.

Clinicians (and laypeople) should perceive that NSSI and suicidal habits are usually not the identical in order that individuals who self-harm obtain probably the most acceptable help for his or her wants. In fact, NSSI needs to be seen as an essential subject, even when the individual shouldn’t be suicidal.

Fable 3: Self-injury Is a Uncommon Drawback.

Whereas the precise charges differ between research and time, analysis constantly exhibits that many individuals worldwide have interaction in self-injury in some unspecified time in the future throughout their lives [3]. As much as 36% of adolescents report self-injuring [4], and 5% of adults report self-injuring [5].

Charges in sure communities are even increased. For instance, LGBTQ+ individuals report considerably excessive charges of self-injury, possible as a result of homophobic and transphobic stigmas they face [6]. Whereas the vast majority of individuals won’t self-injure throughout their lifetime, self-injury shouldn’t be a uncommon downside.

Fable 4: Self-injury Is a Teen Lady Drawback.

Self-Hurt Important Reads

Whereas charges of NSSI are normally increased in adolescents than in adults, self-injury shouldn’t be restricted to “angsty teenagers” in the way in which cultural tales might have you ever imagine. As said, as much as 5% of adults report self-injury [5], and quite a few teenagers who self-injure might proceed to take action into their maturity [7].

Equally, self-injury was lengthy seen as a feminine downside. Nonetheless, more moderen analysis, significantly research that assess much less “stereotypical” types of NSSI, present that the distinction between genders might not be as vital as as soon as believed. Most research proceed to search out cisgender women and girls self-injure at increased charges than cisgender boys and males [8], however individuals of all genders are in danger for self-injury.

Fable 5: If Somebody Self-Injures, They Have BPD.

Within the Diagnostic and Statistical Guide of Psychological Issues (DSM), the diagnostic handbook utilized by most American psychiatrists and therapists, self-injury is barely formally talked about as a symptom of borderline persona dysfunction (BPD). Consequently, many individuals incorrectly imagine that self-injury is proscribed to individuals who battle with BPD.

Many individuals with BPD don’t self-injure, nonetheless, and many individuals who self-injure would not have BPD [9]. Folks fighting quite a lot of psychological well being diagnoses or struggles might flip to self-injury to handle emotional misery.

Fable 6: Self-injury Is Not Treatable.

Quite a few psychological and psychiatric remedies may also help individuals who need to cease self-injuring. Some evidence-based psychotherapies, like dialectical habits remedy (DBT), have been designed to assist individuals who generally self-injure. Many of those therapies train coping abilities that individuals can use as a substitute of self-injury to deal with painful feelings.

Different psychotherapies can also tackle self-injury by lowering the underlying emotional distress or psychological well being struggles (e.g., despair or nervousness) that set off self-injury.


Self-injury is a notable public well being concern for individuals of all ages, genders, and nationalities. Fortunately, numerous evidence-based remedies may also help. It is essential to unfold correct consciousness of NSSI and to problem these myths to make sure that individuals obtain the psychological help they want

In the event you or somebody you like is considering suicide, search assist instantly. For assist 24/7, dial 988 for the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or attain out to the Disaster Textual content Line by texting TALK to 741741. To discover a therapist close to you, go to the Psychology At this time Remedy Listing.



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