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Self-Harm Addiction

I love cutting my skin open so much. Although sight of blood makes me sick (and seldom faint), I love watching blood oozing out of my self-inflicted wound. I am extremely addicted to it. I don’t understand. Why is this happening and what can I do to prevent it. (I have talked to a number of psychologist but that did not help.)

Self-Harm Addiction

A.

Generally, people engage in self-harm behaviors when they are suffering. Many have said that they do it as a way to relieve their emotional suffering. The physical pain is a distraction from their emotional pain. In actuality, it provides no real benefit. It is something that should be avoided. It’s also a sign that someone needs help.

Self-harm is a maladaptive attempt at coping with painful emotions. It is often indicative of an individual who is suffering but who lacks effective coping skills to deal with emotional pain. These skills can be learned in therapy.

To characterize self-harm as an addiction is to suggest that you have no control over it. You can choose to stop at any time. You are choosing not to stop. Realize that you can make better choices. Choose not to do this to yourself. That power is within your control.

You find it to be pleasurable, just as a drug addict finds using to be pleasurable. The drug addict must want to quit; must want to give up the pleasure for the benefits of being clean. If you really want to quit, with help, you can. You enjoy the pleasure you get from cutting. If you want to stop, you can with a good therapist. If you want a good therapist to stop you from enjoying, cutting, marijuana, heroin, alcohol etc., that won’t happen. You can’t go to the therapist and say “I want you to stop me from enjoying smoking.” You need to say ” I enjoy smoking but I want to stop despite the pleasure it gives me.” You can’t say to the therapist “take away the pleasure I get from my addiction.”

Even though you’ve already tried a number of psychologists, don’t give up. Keep searching for the right mental health professionals. Both psychologists and licensed clinical social workers can provide talk therapy. Psychiatrists prescribe medication. Temporarily, medication might help you to gain control over your behavior. Don’t give up searching for help, until you find it. Stay safe and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Self-Harm Addiction

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). Self-Harm Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 13, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/12/01/self-harm-addiction/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 28 Nov 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Nov 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.