• Quote of the Day
    "Worrying is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
    Van Wilder, posted by Daniel

Daniel

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Certainly seems like it:

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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-harm

I would think that suicidal thinking and/or gesturing could be addictive too as a coping mechanism, though maybe not in a clinical sense in which the reward center of the brain is highly involved.

As a side note, what isn't considered an addiction nowadays? I just watched the documentary film "Super Size Me" yesterday. It argues that the food at McDonalds is addictive because of all the salt, sugar, and fat and because the guy who ate nothing but McDonalds for 1 month felt addicted to it after a few weeks.
 
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"As a side note, what isn't considered an addiction nowadays?"

Yes, I guess that's true.

For me I think it's a weakness of some kind. Instead of dealing with real life, I do this. Maybe it's easier? There's not much motivation to stop.
 

David Baxter

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I think there is a difference between an "addiction" and a "compulsion" but the way the word "addiction" is used these days it has become rather imprecise.

However, it's not about "weakness" or "strength", Janet -- any more than depression or panic disorder or PTSD or schizophrenia is about "weakness".
 

HA

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I wondered that too, Janet.

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?

I found these definitions of differences between compulsions and addictions:

Chemical 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.
Editorial - Addiction and compulsion by Richard Reece
http://www.biochemist.org/bio/editorial.htm?VOL=24&ISSUE=5&PAGE=1

What is the difference between a compulsion and an addiction?

Dear Reader,
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.
http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/2947.html
 

Ash

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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?

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.
 

Ash

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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.
 
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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.

I guess I just feel overwhelmed right now, but I do realize that you're right.
 

Ash

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janetr said:
I guess I just feel overwhelmed right now, but I do realize that you're right.

I understand. But even the simplest changes can make you feel more in control.
 
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Ash said:
I understand. But even the simplest changes can make you feel more in control.

That is true. I've been trying to get rid of a bunch of my stuff and it makes me feel, hmm, more free or something. So I guess that's a little step in some direction.

:)
 

HA

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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.

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?

Thanks
Judy
 
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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?

Thanks
Judy

Judy, your questions are fine. :) I just kind of panicked a little about putting too much information out there and I was really down yesterday. I actually learned a little something about myself based on what you wrote and it was good to learn it. I enjoy your posts a lot. :)

For me there are thoughts that I fight and fight that lead up to it. I think about doing it for days until I just can't take the thoughts anymore. Also thinking about it sometimes is how I get through dealing with certain people in my life. I tune them out and think about hurting myself especially when I'm being put down. So I've sometimes wondered if it is a way to "get back" at them only they don't know it. Also I've noticed that when I make mistakes self injury is one of the first things that pops into my head: to punish myself for messing up.

I think the scariest thing for me is wanting to do it when things are going ok. If something nice happens to me I want to punish myself like I don't deserve nice things. It's very frustrating because so far I haven't figure out how to make the thoughts go away except by hurting myself and that only works temporarily.

I think if I had gotten help as a child I probably would be a lot better off, but no one knew (or cared) that I needed help until it was too late.

Anyway, I hope I didn't make you feel bad by deleting my posts. I panicked a little, but I feel better now. I guess it's a hard thing to talk about, but each time I do I actually (eventually) feel better and not so all alone.

:)
 

HA

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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. ;~}

Hugs
Judy
 
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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. ;~}

Hugs
Judy

Thank you.

:) :) :)
 
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I just wonder about the physical effects of self injury to the chemistry of the brain. I messed up really bad last night and today. Before I did it I felt so anxious I wanted to crawl out of my skin (last night) and after I didn't feel any better. It was like it wasn't enough so today I did more and I don't feel better. There's this feeling that it isn't enough. Maybe it can never be enough. Most of the time it does help a lot and afterwards I feel this calmness, but not now. I don't feel better. I just feel stupid.

:(
 

David Baxter

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Maybe that's a good sign -- if this is no longer making you feel better, perhaps it's time to find another way?
 
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Yes, I think you're right. I've been having those thoughts too. Sometimes things are just too logical for me, but maybe this will sink in. I can come back here and read how I don't feel better and I don't feel punished.
 

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