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Do I Self-Harm?

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I need to know if I qualify under the ‘self-harm’ category. I pick at cuts, scabs, pimples, random bumps until they bleed and do it again and again until they scar. I also go out into the cold wearing not enough clothes and freeze myself until I cannot handle it anymore. I pull my hair, pinch my skin, dig my nails into my palms. I push sharp objects against my skin but not enough to cut myself. If I have a bruise or something that hurts I will press on it and reopen wounds to distract myself from my thoughts or emotions. Does this equate to self-harm? The reason I ask is because I told my last therapist about a few of them and she did not seem worried, nor did she bring them up again. Thank you very much.

Do I Self-Harm?

Answered by on -


You’re deliberately hurting yourself for the purpose of distracting yourself from painful thoughts and emotions. That’s self-harm.

People who engage in self-harm do so for a number of reasons, but often for the reason that you stated. Some people claim that it provides temporary relief or acts as a distraction from or interruption of their negative thoughts. It creates a different form of suffering but suffering nonetheless. Self-harm is not a good solution to any problem.

Counseling is the solution to your problem. You should revisit this topic with your therapist. Tell her what you’re doing and be as detailed and as direct as possible. Describe to her why you’re doing it and ask for her assistance in solving this problem.

When your strong emotions arise, try writing instead of self-harm. Studies have shown that journaling can significantly decrease emotional stress. It provides an opportunity to thoroughly explore your feelings, and help you move past them. It should not replace mental health treatment but it could provide a great deal of relief during times of high emotional stress. I would encourage you discuss journaling with your therapist along with your concerns about self-harm. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Do I Self-Harm?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Do I Self-Harm?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.