september 8 2008

essay i wrote for my english comp 1 class last semester about self injury
Current mood: bummed
Self-injury or self-harm is not a good way to handle distress in life. On a website self harm is described as, “Self-Injury (SI) is the act of physically hurting yourself on purpose without the intent of committing suicide” (Self-Injury). Another website says, ” An estimated one percent of Americans use physical self-harm as a way of coping with stress” (Martinson). A third website says, “Self-injury effects people from all walks of life, irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or personal strength” (LifeSIGNS).

Self mutilation is harmful and dangerous. It is not good for your body to be physically injured anytime. It can cause infections, disfiguration, scars, and internal damage. It can also lead to accidental suicide. In an article on a website it states, “Self-harming is extremely dangerous. While they usually have no suicidal intent, self-harmers are 100 times more likely to kill themselves than the rest of the population” (Jones). Another website says, “Suicide is sometimes accidental when self-harming, but it is not intentional” (Fisher). ..:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Self injury causes long term emotional problems. A book says, “After an episode of self inflicted violence, most people progress through two distinct stages of emotion,” “The second emotional stage includes feelings of guilt, regret, shame, and the return of the emotions that were evident before the act. By the time you reach this stage, you probably feel even worse than you did before” (Alderman 75). A web page states, “In time self-injury can become a person’s automatic response to the ordinary strains of everyday life, and both frequency and severity of self-injury may increase” (LifeSIGNS). Self injury causes a person to feel bad about themselves. It makes the person feel that they can not cope effectively.
Self-harm is not a good way of coping with life’s difficulties because it becomes an addiction. After using self injury as a way of dealing with major difficulties it becomes a way to deal with everything that feels emotionally painful, overwhelming, hopeless, and difficult. A book says, Speaking from experience, the obsessional phase was, for me, most intolerable. The thoughts of wanting and actually needing to hurt myself, knowing it was wrong, and trying futilely to talk myself out of it, became overwhelming and distracting to the point where I could not concentrate, especially when it went on too long. In the first three to five months of my recovery from the addiction of self-harm, I had to learn to sit with those uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, and physiological sensations continually, without even momentary relief, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I would never want to go back to that place again. There was no easy way out, but getting through it successfully made me a very strong person. (Turner 48)
A website says, “Like drugs, it gives you a temporary high, but you have to come down sometime. And when you do, the same problems are still there” (Red Tears). The thoughts of self harm become obsessive and you act on the compulsion. It repeats itself just like the disease of addiction. When you decide to self injure your mind obsesses and the compulsion progresses. The self injury becomes more frequent and more severe. You become entrapped in the cycle of self harm.

Even though self injury is not a good way to handle stress in life, people who self harm believe it is. They think inflicting physical pain on themselves is an effective way to escape the emotional pain and anxiety they are feeling. One book says, “The self-injurer realizes, albeit on a subconscious level, that physical pain equals escape and ultimate freedom. And that she can cause herself to experience physical pain (with the end goal of going away and having no feelings) by hurting herself on purpose” (Turner 45). A website states, “It is a method of coping during an emotionally difficult time that helps some people temporarily feel better because they have a way to physically express and release the tension and the pain they hold inside. In other people hurting themselves produces chemical changes in their bodies that make them feel happier and more relaxed” (Self-Injury)

Even so, self-injury does not make you feel better in the long term. It is a temporary escape from the current issue, problems, thoughts or feelings that may be going on in your life. One website says, “Often people hurt themselves to try to relieve intense emotions and feel better. These intense feelings can seem uncontrollable, frightening, and dangerous. When people have them they may think that hurting themselves is the only way to escape these feelings,” (Self-Injury). They may get instant relief from self harm but they then feel worse than they had felt before choosing to injure themselves. Furthermore, they then have to cope with the shame and guilt associated with their deliberate abuse. Self harming is not a permanent way to get rid of distress in life.

Self harmers also justify their self abuse by claiming their behavior does not hurt anyone else. They are not physically harming another. It is their body, they say, and they have the right to do with it as they please. Those who injure themselves also often feel ashamed, alone and unlovable. Self-injury then seems to be an effective way to hide and isolate oneself. A book reads, “It can have some detrimental effects on relationships with others, one of which is to keep others at a distance, both emotionally and physically” (Alderman).

Self-harm does hurt other people. Everyone involved with the self injurer is emotionally harmed by their behaviors. Caring people are naturally distressed when they see someone hurting themselves. In addition, a book says self injury causes “a lack of honesty and open communication between you and important others in your life” (Alderman). Some people lie about their thoughts, feelings and actions because of the shame they feel about their self harm. Self mutilators can’t be close with others or gain intimacy because they can’t be honest with others or confide in them. People who truly care may begin to believe the self harmer does not want them around. They may learn that they can not trust what they are told by the self injurer. These things cause fear, confusion and sorrow for other people.

Finally, self injurer’s see their destructive action as a way to gain control. A book reads, “Self-inflicted violence is a coping mechanism that you use as a way to control dangerous feelings or even to stay alive.” (Alderman 61). When a self injurer injures themselves they are looking for instant gratification and relief. Self harm is an immediate way to take control of what they are feeling and experiencing. Self harm is also a way to control the abuse that happens to you. Many of those who injure themselves have experienced abuse by others that they could not control. Instead of being hurt by someone else, they control the abuse by hurting themselves.

Self-harm becomes uncontrollable and is addicting. A book states, “It is a horrible internal struggle of an obsessive nature. This is very similar to what an alcoholic or addict experiences when obsessing about drinking or doing drugs” (Turner 48). Self harming behavior becomes compulsive and very difficult to stop. The self injurer loses control over the one thing they think helps them to stay in control. Rather than gaining control, their life becomes unmanageable because of the self harming behavior.

Self inflicted violence is not a good way to cope with life’s problems. Self injury is mind consuming and makes you feel more isolated. The self harmer gets caught in an ongoing cycle that is not a healthy or effective way to live. They feel alone because their behavior has pushed everyone out of their lives. Self mutilation is just like using a drug and becoming wrapped up in the disease of addiction. You can no longer function with it but also feel you cant function with out it. The self harm is just an escape for that moment and when it is all said and done the problems are still there and the self harmer feels worse than they did before they injured themselves.

Works Cited
Alderman, Tracy. The Scarred Soul. Copyright 1997. ..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Fisher, Sarah Michelle. “Self Mutilation.” Created March 14, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
Jones, Dr. Hillary. “Close Them Down.” Retrieved July 21, 2008.
“LifeSIGNS. “Self-Injury Factsheet for Parents and Guardians.” Copyright 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
Martinson, Deb. “Bill of Rights for People Who Self-Harm.” Copyright 1998- 2001. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
“Red Tears.” Retrieved July 21, 2008.
“Self Injury: A Struggle.” Copy right 1999- 2008. Retrieved July 21, 2008.
Turner, V. J. Secret Scars. Copyright 2002. Hazelden Foundation.


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