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What is self-harm?



Tags  emotions, coping, stopping, eating-disorders, alcohol


What is self-harm?

Self-harm is an umbrella term for any behaviour, action or habit, which can cause damage to your health. This can include cutting, but also includes overeating, taking drugs, smoking and drinking too much alcohol. It’s a wide area that covers a whole range of actions.

Deliberate self-harm is a term used when someone intentionally injures or harms him or herself. We all have accidents and end up with cuts and bruises through no fault of our own - but it's the cuts and bruises that we cause ourselves on purpose that are classified as self-harm.

Self-harm is causing deliberate harm to your own body through physical abuse, for example cutting, burning, pulling hair, picking skin and deliberate bruising. Self-harm is usually conducted at times of anger, distress, fear, emotional worry, depression or low self-esteem in order to manage negative feelings that cannot be dealt with in a rational or logical way by the self-harmer. Alternatively, self-harm can be used as a form of self-punishment for something that the self-harmer has done, thinks they have done, are told by someone else that they have done, or that they have allowed to be done to themselves.

The difference between self-harm and self-injury….

Self-injury is the term used to describe deliberate acts of hurting yourself – so this may be cutting, burning, head banging, pulling out your own hair etc.

Self-harming behaviour includes acts that cause short and long-term damage e.g. over/under eating, drug abuse, binge drinking, smoking and other things that may impact on your life later on. The biggest difference is that self-harm is seen as being more socially acceptable – it’s easier to talk about your smoking habit or difficulties losing weight than it is to talk about cutting or injuring yourself. The term self-harm is more widely used than self-injury – it doesn’t matter which one you use as long as you are being understood.