Self- injury is a scary and confusing reality for many parents of teenagers in today’s world and it’s natural to yearn for explanations as to WHY. Self-injury has been a documented medical issue since the 1870s but research began in the 1980s as to explain it’s causes, implications, and reasons. It’s important to know that no two people self-injury for the same reasons but here are some of the most common explanations, and no, they are not doing it just for attention.
- Distract themselves, alter the focus of their attention, or regain control over their minds when experiencing pressing, unavoidable and overwhelming feelings or thoughts.
- Release tension associated with strong emotions or overwhelming thoughts.
- Feel something physical when they are otherwise dissociated and numb.
- Express themselves or communicate and/or document strong emotions they are feeling and cannot otherwise articulate.
- Punish themselves.
- Experience a temporary but intense feeling of euphoria that occurs in the immediate aftermath of self-harm
As you can see, self-injury is a serious, yet treatable, issue that many young people experiment with and experience today. If your child is engaging in cutting, burning, biting, ingesting items, or other forms of self-injury, remember that there is hope as they are often self-injuring to self-soothe other emotions that are overwhelming. Read the next blog post for suggestions as to how to help your child overcome self-injurious behavior.
Kimberly Presley, MSW, LCSW
To learn more about self-injury, visit the Taylor Counseling Group Blog.
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