What is self mutilation disorder? Also referred to as self harming, self mutilation disorder refers to the deliberate act of causing harm or destruction to a part of the body. This is achieved in any number of ways, from cutting and burning the skin, to puncturing the flesh with needles or scratching incessantly. Some sufferers of self mutilation disorder pick at wounds to prevent them from healing or drink noxious substances, but whichever method the sufferer uses to self harm the end result is distressing and very difficult for others to understand.
What is self mutilation disorder?
For many sufferers, self mutilation becomes an addiction and as soon as they are stressed or in any kind of emotional turmoil, the compulsion to self harm is all-consuming. The patient often feels that they have nowhere to turn and mutilating their body is the only way they can cope with their problems.
Why do people self mutilate?
For anyone who has never experienced the urge to self harm, the notion of doing something as destructive as slicing open your skin using a razor blade and watching the blood pour out is difficult to comprehend. But for those who engage in such self destructive behavior, the act of self harming actually brings them relief, if only for a short while.
There are lots of reasons why people choose to self harm. Some patients do it at a difficult point in their life as a way of dealing with intense emotional pain or anger. Others self mutilate because it gives them a sense of control when everything around them is falling apart.
Is self mutilation a short step from suicide?
Most people who self harm have no intention of committing suicide, although it is very possible that they might have experienced suicidal thoughts or decide to kill themselves at a later date. The act of self harming is not normally intended to cause life threatening injuries, although this can sometimes occur. However, there is a strong link between self harming and suicidal impulses, so signs of self mutilation disorder should never be ignored.
Who is more at risk of self harming?
Self mutilation disorder is more common than your might expect: research carried out on college students has indicated that at least 40% of them admit to self mutilating at least once. Anyone suffering from extreme emotional stress is at risk of self mutilation disorder, but the illness is more common in people who have suffered from the effects of a dysfunctional childhood. Self mutilation disorder is also more common in people who suffer from episodes of dissociation.
How can I tell if a loved one is self harming?
The problem with self mutilation disorder is that the sufferer will usually go to great lengths to conceal the evidence of their self harming because they feel deeply ashamed. Most sufferers mutilate parts of the body they can easily cover up with clothing and on the outside they might appear to be calm and serene, but unexplained wounds or old scars are a giveaway.
Although it can be an extremely difficult subject to broach, if you suspect someone you know is self harming, it is very important to try and get help for that person before they cause serious damage to their body.