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Self injury myths

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A presentation and discussion. January 2017.

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Self injury myths

  1. 1. Self-injury myths LifeSIGNS - Self-Injury Guidance & Network Support www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS My name is Wedge
  2. 2. Who self-injures
  3. 3. Anyone can turn to self-injury ▸ Self-injury doesn’t discriminate ▸ All ages ▸ All genders ▸ What about different societies? Different cultures? www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  4. 4. What drives a person to self-injury
  5. 5. Stress and distress ▸ Low self-esteem ▸ Perfectionism and high achievement ▸ Poor body image ▸ Trauma and abuse ▸ Other mental health issues www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  6. 6. Why self-injury ‘works’
  7. 7. Self-injury re-focuses the mind ▸ Release from overwhelming emotion ▸ Relief from cyclical thoughts ▸ Physical pain and self-care ▸ State change ▸ Anchoring ▸ Control www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  8. 8. Myths www.lifesigns.org.uk/self-injury-myths
  9. 9. Mostly, women self-injure. Many people, including statisticians and the media Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  10. 10. The majority of collected stats show women get more help ▸ It’s not correct to imagine that a ‘few’ men turn to self-injury. ▸ Our work, and large studies, shows that men can turn to self-injury in similar ways to women. ▸ Self-injury is a coping behaviour, something some people rely on when under stress or in difficult situations – it isn’t sex or gender based. ▸ But there are gendered differences in behaviour, owing to culture and up- bringing. ▸ See http://men.lifesigns.org.uk www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  11. 11. But it’s mostly a teen white girl thing, yeah? The media, including TV dramas Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  12. 12. Young people are more likely to start self-injuring than older adults ▸ Young people of all ages (pre-teen to early adulthood) are more likely to turn to self-injury than older adults, but this includes boys, lads and men. ▸ A further concern is the lack of support available to adults who self-injure, and older adults who have been hurting themselves since childhood, or who begin to injure in later life. ▸ There are fewer statistics about people who self-injure in certain countries, and people within certain cultures within the UK. Evidence suggests that culture, not race, plays an important role in the way a person learns to cope with mental health concerns, emotional turbulence, stress, trauma and abuse. Repressive upbringing can influence a person to become secretive and emotionally repressed. As an example, some people within UK Asian cultures hurt themselves in specific ways in order to be certain to keep their self-injury hidden. ▸ See www.lifesigns.org.uk/adult-self-injury www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  13. 13. Self-injury is attention seeking. So many people Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  14. 14. People need attention ▸ Most people who self-injury keep it to themselves ▸ Many feel shame ▸ When a person is in need of attention, it’s bizarre to belittle them ▸ This myth is fuelled by some photos online. Sharing wounds and scars is complex behaviour - let’s discuss. www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  15. 15. Self-injury is a suicide attempt; it’s parasuicide. Some NHS statisticians Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  16. 16. Self-injury is a coping mechanism ▸Habitual self-injury, as a way of coping, is separate from suicidal behaviour ▸Self-injury does not lead to suicide; despair does ▸Suicidal behaviour can co-present with self-injury www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  17. 17. You have to be mentally ill to self-injure. Logical people Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  18. 18. You don’t need to be mentally ill to be suffering mental distress ▸ Self-injury is not a disorder; it might indicate a disorder or show that something is wrong ▸ Self-injury is a coping mechanism, a behaviour that some people rely on in times of stress, emotional distress, and / or traumatic events ▸ Low-self esteem is not, in itself, a mental illness ▸ People with many kinds of mental illness might turn to self-injury, as a coping mechanism and for other reasons www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  19. 19. Self-injury is addictive. Some people who self-injure Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  20. 20. It may feel like the only thing that works ▸ Self-injury is a behaviour ▸ People can choose to change their behaviours (as opposed to what their bodies are physically reliant upon) ▸ People can become psychologically addicted to lots of things, but automatic enrolment in ‘addiction therapies’ is not often the best step ▸ Endorphins; cortisol; serotonin; dopamine; etc. ▸ Self-injury can become the automatic and relied upon coping mechanism www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  21. 21. Self-injury is ‘cutting’. The media, parents, and many health care providers Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  22. 22. Self-injury and self-harm cover a wide range of behaviours ▸ Not everything leaves a scar. Not everything is obvious. ▸ Self-injury is a coping mechanism. An individual harms their physical self to deal with emotional pain, or to break feelings of numbness by arousing sensation. ▸ Self-harm is a bigger umbrella term. ▸ The method of hurting might be very important to the person, but is not our focus. ▸ We must address the underlying emotional drivers. www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  23. 23. Only someone who does it can understand. Some people who self-injure Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  24. 24. Actually, it can be shocking to think about hurting yourself as a form of healing ▸ Self-injury is a difficult behaviour to sympathise with for some ▸ It should be easier to sympathise, and empathise, with a person in emotional distress ▸ Without self-injury, some people do worse things. Some people cannot function. ▸ New choices, new ways of thinking and new ways of behaving must be embedded before self-injury is reduced. www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  25. 25. People who self-injure don’t feel the pain. Amateur psychologists Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  26. 26. Yeah no ▸ For many, the pain is a focus for the mind, bringing relief from chaos or numbness. ▸ For some, the pain is felt less, yet needed to focus. ▸ People who dissociate might not feel the pain in the same way as at other times. www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  27. 27. The worse the damage, the bigger the problem. Loads of people, including some people who self-injure :( Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  28. 28. Severity does not indicate emotional pain ▸Destroy this myth ▸Destroy the need for ever deeper wounds to be taken seriously www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS
  29. 29. • Once you’ve told someone, things automatically get better • Self-injury is a trend • Celebrities need ever more extreme activities • Self-injury mostly affects the privileged Suggested by Wadham College, Oxford Self-injury myths www.lifesigns.org.uk | @LifeSIGNS

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