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Self Injury Essay

3054 words - 12 pages

To intentionally injure an organ as vulnerable and delicate as the skin, go against everything we know about our innate tendency to increase our pleasure and avoid our pain. And out of all the pain inducing things that one might do, why have so many chosen sharp objects to draw blood from their skin (Strong 29). In this paper I am going to research and discuss, the underlying reasons people engage in the act of superficial self-mutilation.Self-mutilation was once thought to be demonstrated by those people with schizophrenia, autism, or an extreme personality disorder, but in the early nineteen nineties it has gained increased attention in female adolescents and young adults (Zila Kiselica 1). Over one percent of the population engages in the behavior of self-mutilation, and depending on the survey used 85%-97% were of female gender (Nichols 2). This is one of the most puzzling and misunderstood behaviors psychologists face today (Favazza 222). Due to the very nature of this, many, including professionals are turned off and disgusted, it is thought to be mysterious and incomprehensible (Favazza 225). No one likes self-mutilators; their presence seems to threaten the sense of mental and physical integrity of those around them (Favazza 288), but the key point is all of them hurt, and all of them cause damage to one's body (Clarke, Whittaker 4).This subject is called many different things: self-inflicted violence, self-injury, self-harm, Para suicide, delicate cutting, self-abuse, and self-mutilation (Le Belle 1). To define this behavior is a hard task, due to the fact that the signs are not recorded systematically or uniformly (Kiselica, Zila 2). The broad definition of this topic is: "a volitional act to harm one's body without intention to cause death" (Kiselica, Zila 2). The definition by Winchel and Stanley is the commission of deliberate harm to one's own body. The injury is done to one's self, without the aide of another person, and the injury is severe enough to cause tissue damage such as scarring. Acts that are committed with conscience suicidal intent or are associated with sexual arousal are excluded (Martinson 1). This act has also been observed as repetitive in nature, one psychologist Rita Bach, found an average of ninety-three self-inflicted scars per self-mutilator (Kiselica, Zila 3).Acts of self-mutilation vary from cutting, inserting objects under the skin, hitting the body with objects, to burning the skin (Kiselica, Zila 3). The most common form is self-cutting and it is usually done on the forearms, but there have been reports of cuts to the face, thighs, breasts, and genitals (Kiselica, Zila 2). The instruments used for cutting range from needles, fingernails, razors, and knives (Kiselica, Zila 2). When there is an attempt to burn the skin, matches and lighters, in most cases are used (Levenkron 24).Many authors describe the typical self-mutilator as a single female that is an adolescent or young adult (Levenkron 43). She...

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