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Defined: Self-mutilation is the practice of deliberately harming oneself (e.g. cutting, burning, scratching, pulling out hair).


Degress of Self-Abuse:

Psychologists have identified three subcategories of self-mutilation: moderate, sterotypic, and major. The category most people are familiar with, moderate self-mutilation, is the most widespread throughout the population. Moderate self-mutilation consists of cutting, burning, carving, and stabbing one's body with sharp objects. Stereotypic self-mutilation takes the form of head banging or arm biting. Major self-mutilation is particularly extreme and uncommon. This form of self-injury often invovles limb amputation or castration.



Though we think of self-mutilation as a new phenomenon--it's been named "the new age anorexia" by some--the practice has actually been around for a while. All the way back in 496-406 BCE, in Sopholes' famous play "Oedipus," the title character blinds himself as punishment for (unknowingly) killing his father and marrying his mother. But it wasn't until 1938 that Karl Menninger proposed that self-injury was a way of trying to soothe oneself. He suggested that "local self-destruction is a form of partial suicide to avert total suicide."



*Cutting is the most common type of self-mutilation, encompassing 72% of self-injurers.

*Burning and self-hitting are also quite common.

*Hair pulling

*Bone breaking

*Interference with wound healing are other widespread practices



*There is no one reason why people self-mutilate.

*Often it's a combination of many different reasons.

*For most self-injurers, the process of self-mutilation is a way of releasing stress and tension and bad feelings.

*Self-harm can be used to take away a feeling of numbness, to express feelings that cannot be expressed otherwise, or as a form of punishment.

*Sometimes self-injury is used to make psychic pain more tangible.



*According to some reports, self-injury has taken on the epidemic-like status of anorexia and bulimia.

*Studies show that approximately one out of every 200 girls between ages 13 and 19 practices self-mutilation regularly.

*Girls tend to be more prone to self-injurious behaviors but an estimated 11,000 American boys are also affected each year.

*While only 1% of the general American population uses self-injurious practices to cope with extreme emotions, that number increases drastically among adolescents and females.



*Nearly 50% of self-injurers have been sexually or physically abused at some point in time.



A large portion of self-mutilation women have also struggled with eating disorders; anorexia, bulimia, or both.



*Most self-injurers do not harm themselves with the intention of committing suicide.

*Concersely, they see self-mutilation as a way of keeping themselves alive.

*Self-harm, for those who do it, is often a method of coping with emotional stress.



*Though self-injury is characterized as an attention-seeking behavior, this is a falsehood.

*Most self-injerers take great pains to hide their scars and rarely seek medical attention.

*People who self-injure often avoid situations in which they are expected to wear revealing clothing(e.g. pool parties), and may have frequent stories about accidentally hurting themselves.



*In addition to the medical treatment of physical, it is treated a a psychological illness.

*Medication such as anti-depressants is sometimes used to treat the underlying feelings.

*Counseling and therapy are used to help the person deal with the problems they're trying to deal with by self-injuring.

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