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Why Do People Self Harm?


Self harm is a way of coping, coping with difficult feelings and emotions. Please be aware that although this information may relate to some people, it will not relate to everyone.


Some people have had negative childhood or adult experiences, for example a child may have been physically, sexually and/or emotionally abused, neglected, had to cope with an emotionally unwell parent or may have lost a parent at a young age. Sometimes experiences such as having had a serious childhood illness can cause someone to self harm. And being forced to grow up too quickly can cause distress in a child, leading to self harm. Not everyone who self harms will have had these experiences.

Self harm can be triggered by distressing events in an adults life. They may be in an unhappy or destructive relationship, making them feel powerless and very alone. Being raped, or sexually harassed may lead to someone self harming.

Many people who hurt themselves have low self esteem and are generally unhappy with themselves. Often, when put in a situation where control is taken away from them, can lead the person to self harm as a way to gain more control.

Self injury is a way, for some people, of coping with tension and distress, for some there is a great release from these emotions during and after they have hurt themselves. It can be a survival technique for some, a way to help continue with life.

Self harm may feel like the ONLY way to release feelings. It can also be a way of avoiding feelings and also a way of feeling more alive. If the person is hurting in someway, they can feel more alive if previously they felt numb emotionally. it may be a way of communicating, to show how much distress the person is in. Sometimes people who self harm hope that what they are doing, in some way will bring caring and love which they desperately lack. Hurting oneself can be a way of self punishment. Self punishment can create the feeling of being in control. For people who have been abused self injury can make the person feel relief by releasing the badness, the feelings of contamination they feel from the experience. Bad memories or flashbacks of traumatic and painful events may lead someone to self harm as it can, for some people, take the memories away temporarily.  Hating one's own body may make someone want to self harm.

Of course, these are just some of the reasons why people may self harm. Everyone who has harmed themselves in one way or another will have their own reasons why. Everyone's feelings are different.

It is important to understand the background and reasons for the self harm to be able to move on from it. It is the first step to recovery.