Why Do People Hurt Themselves? Essay

1163 words - 5 pages

Though humans are born with an instinct of survival, some end up harming themselves, or even going as far as killing themselves. Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a less extreme version of self-mutilation than suicide, but still inhibits the life of those possessing it. Matthew Nock (2009) of Harvard University reveals the definition, functions, factors, and causes of NSSI, along with what he believes should be further researched.
NSSI is the action of intentionally causing damage to one’s own body without the desire to kill him or her self. Harmful actions that are performed without the purpose of self-harm are not classified as NSSI, such as smoking, tattoos, and body piercings. Though ...view middle of the document...

Lastly, the interpersonal negative reinforcement states that who partake in NSSI escape from displeasing social situations easier. These processes are supported by various pieces of evidence. To start off, development disability behavior has been shown to increase or decrease following the application and elimination of desired and aversive stimuli instantly after NSSI. Next, studies show that the motives given by self-harmers for their behavior correspond to that of the four-function model. Studies have also found that when imagining exposure to NSSI, self-injurers show a decrease in physiological arousal. Finally, a growth in relationships with family is demonstrated following NSSI.
Compared to non-injurers, self-injurers tend to display higher physiologic arousal. Self-injurers tend to have heightened physiological stimulation, withdraw from stressful tasks sooner, and have greater efforts to curb distressing thoughts. However, self-injurers tend to hold deficits in social problem solving and communication with other self-injurers. Several risk factors are thought to cause this vulnerability, including childhood abuse and genetic tendency of high emotion reactivity. Children who experience abuse gravitate towards diminished brain activity in the frontal cortex, along with a greater amount of stress. This irregularity may increase emotional reactivity, and unable to handle the response, it drives the person to cope through NSSI. The lack of social-problem-solving and communication skills those with NSSI acquire may also come from childhood maltreatment. Considering these vulnerability factors are shown to increase the risk of a variety of psychiatric disorders, it is proposed that NSSI is connected to psychiatric disorders. Yet, childhood abuse and psychiatric disorders disaffiliate with NSSI when high emotional activity is regulated.
Why do people engage in NSSI? There are six hypotheses on the processes of NSSI, each with experimental evidence. First, there is the Social Learning Hypothesis. According to this hypothesis, NSSI is influenced from witnessing the behavior from friends, family, and media. For instance, both the increase in NSSI and increase in NSSI references in media have increased over the past decade. Second, is the Self-Punishment Hypothesis, suggesting that self-punishment encourages NSSI, caused from consistent abuse or criticism by others. This hypothesis would support the association of childhood abuse with NSSI. Next, the Social Signaling Hypothesis characterizes people using NSSI for high-intensity communication. Low-cost behaviors are less likely to be effective, so people resort to NSSI to get the responses they long for. Following is the Pragmatic...

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