- Oct 14, 2004
Or something else?
Those who engage in self-harm face the contradicting reality of harming themselves while at the same time feeling a relief from this act. This feeling of relief comes from the beta endorphins released in the brain (the same chemicals responsible for the "runner's high"). These act to reduce tension and emotional distress and may lead to a feeling of calm.
As a coping mechanism, self-injury can become mentally addictive because, to the self-injurer, it works; it enables him/her to deal with intense stress in the current moment. Therapy for self-harmers only works when it is focused on finding alternative coping methods before the person is encouraged to give up the self-harm behavior. Instead of tackling the behavior itself, therapy and treatment concentrate on the underlying causes of the stress that is provoking the need for release.
Editorial - Addiction and compulsion by Richard ReeceChemical addiction may be more clear-cut, but many of the behaviours associated with both addiction and compulsion are the same. It is sometimes said that the difference between addiction and compulsion is that an addiction carries with it a euphoric component that a compulsion lacks.
http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2947.htmlWhat is the difference between a compulsion and an addiction?
The distinction between a compulsion and an addiction is a fine one because the terms are sometimes misused and also because the medical profession's conception of each changes as new research becomes available. Addiction and compulsion each have biological/genetic and psychological components and each involves a perceived lack of control by the individual facing them. However, there are some key differences to keep in mind when using these terms.
A compulsion is a repetitive, ritualistic behavior that a person performs without rational motivation. Compulsions offer temporary relief from anxiety — in turn, the need to reduce this anxiety is what drives the compulsive behavior. Sometimes this anxiety takes the form of obsessive thoughts related to the compulsive behavior (i.e., fear of germs and hand-washing), but often the compulsive behavior has no clear relation to anything in particular (the need to walk all the way around one's car clockwise before getting in).
Addictions, similar to compulsions, can offer relief from stress or anxiety, but are characterized primarily by an inability to discontinue a harmful behavior despite its negative consequences. Common addictions include unhealthy and repeated (over)use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, smoking, or sex. Addictions are easily formed to behaviors that provide physical or psychological pleasure, or relief from pain. (It is also worth noting that the psychiatric community no longer uses the term "addiction" for unhealthy patterns of substance abuse; they now prefer the term "dependency.")
Many people exhibit habitual behavior, but compulsions and addictions refer to those instances where these behaviors disrupt an individual's ability to function. In fact, compulsions and addictions can be debilitating or become destructive if untreated, for the individual and/or her/his family, friends, and others. Individuals dealing with compulsion or addiction need to seek evaluation from a medical or mental health professional who can recommend behavioral therapy, medication, and/or group-run recovery programs to help restore a sense of control over their behavior.
HeartArt said:If it is more of a compulsion, does medication help? Can you replace pleasurable or calming events for the cutting or burning events. Doing a manicure, meditation, photography or journaling? Can you distinguish what takes place just before you cut or burn?
Ash said:Change what you can and try to accept what you can't. You won't wake up one day and be what you would consider "perfect". You will always have issues and problems. But you have to work on what you can work on. Baby steps.
Ash said:I understand. But even the simplest changes can make you feel more in control.
It's the "leading up to" part that's the most important to come to terms with. If you can track your mood, you can do something about it before all hell breaks loose and you cut. The trick is to intervene ahead of time and do something healthy instead. It takes a lot of insight.
HeartArt said:Ash, Oh I see, it is mood that leads up to it. I was thinking it was thoughts or something happening in the evironment that led up to the SI.
Janet, I hope my questions are not making things confusing for you. I'm not a therapist just a psychology student and a concerned website member.....
One last question.
Do you think psychotherapy in childhood (intervention through schools maybe) could prevent Self Injury in adulthood?
HeartArt said:Hi Janet,
No, I did not feel bad about the deleted posts, just concerned for you.
You deserve nice things, Janet because everyone deserves nice things.
Thanks for being brave and sharing openly here. Your sharing has helped more than just me to understand, I'm sure.
I enjoy your posts too. ;~}