Secret History of Self – Harm

Secret History of Self – Harm

– interview with person who cut their arms/legs, bit herself & burnt their skin on a regular basis as a “shy, awkward & isolated teenager”
– she noted that she worried a lot, would feel overwhelmed & “needed a release”
– she also saw it as a visible release (to see the blood)
– she noted that most people did not know
– she has scars from her self-harm behaviour as a teenager
– she has written a book about self-harm & notes:
– self-harm – despite being seen as a modern phenomenon – is in fact not
– it is a myth that self-harm behaviour is by definition suicidal
– there was a lot of discussion about what was called “self-mutilation” in the late 19th century
– in Victorian times, such behaviour was – according to the report – “viewed in the context of insanity or mental illness” [she notes that this was also the era of bloodletting by doctors]
– she notes that modern texts assert that self-harming behaviour is associated with attention-seeking & manipulative behaviour (she believes this came about through the medical profession’s understanding of hysteria & a “neurotic, hysterical personality”)
– by the late 19th/early 20 century, this self-harming behaviour was seen as being emotionally manipulative (when done by women) & for malingering purposes when done by men
– and arising from this idea, she says came the concept of Borderline Personality Disorder & by the 1960s, US Psychologists & Psychologists were referring to self-cutting
– program states young people self-harm now due to reasons of deep emotional turmoil
– history shows though that the association of self-harm with young people is a modern phenomenon
– some people now also say the Internet increases the rate & likelihood of self-harm because of the web’s accessibility – but does history show that this might be more representative of a fear of our time than being intrinsically linked to the behaviour?
– she says the medical profession should listen to the young person about their self-harming behaviour, rather than judging the behaviour & assuming the reasons for the behaviour is known
– she believes (Sara Cheney) more research is needed around triggers & the need to discuss things

Source: ABC RN All in the Mind | 23 April 2017

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