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The Sovereignty or Malice of Self

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Deliberate self-harm is the action of purposefully wounding one’s own physical form. Some examples include cutting or slicing their skin with sharp objects or scorching their body with fire. A long standing belief holds this specific type of self-injury to not include and suicidal intentions. Relatively, this form of self-physical damage is a risky manner to manage mental-emotional pain, extreme rage, and defeat. Some self-injurers may experience a fleeting sense of serenity and freedom from pressure, trailed by culpability, humiliation, and reoccurrence of the uncopiable feelings. Additionally, regardless of intent, with self-injury arises the risk of severe deadly self-aggressive activities. A singular cause that primes someone to self-injure has yet to be discovered. Overall, self-injury may perhaps result from several potential complex foundations, such as the inability to cope with psychosomatic discomfort by utilizing only positive behaviors or any deficiency in the process of emotion management, modification, communication, or empathy. Feelings of irrelevance, isolation, dread, rage, onus, dismissal, self-loathing, or sexuality confusion may also be present. Receiving suitable treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can educate a self-injurer on several optional and positive methods of coping.

Principal self-mutilation, such as self-directed surgical enucleation, genital disfigurement, and abstraction, is a relatively intermittent symptom principally interconnected with psychotic disorders and acute hedonism. General self-mutilation is repetitious conduct that maintains an equitably static configuration of manifestation. Artificial restrained self-mutilation is the utmost established form and embraces scorching, skin-cutting, interfering with helical restoration, and widespread scraping (Favazza, 1992).

The most common locations of self-injury are the fingers, palms, wrists, abdomen, and thighs, nevertheless self-injurers can hurt themselves anyplace on the physique (DeAngelis, 2015). Research also finds, individuals who self-injure similarly are further disposed to depression, desperateness, and disconnection (Tantam, 1992). Thus, examiners are learning the role of emotion dysregulation, struggle discerning between emotional states, or knowing in what way to manage through or disengage oneself from destructive emotional states, and discovering a solid relationship with self-injury (DeAngelis, 2015).

In a 2013 study testified in the Journal of Adolescent Health, study writers and associates monitored 1,466 undergraduates at five American universities over six semesters. Learners who self-injured at the commencement and denied having any morbid beliefs, strategies, or engagements, yet later engaged in a minimum of twenty self-injuring activities, stood 3.4 times more probable to attempt suicide prior to the end of the study. Further risk aspects encompassed an individual’s pain tolerance, truncated mental state of dignity, inclination to objectify their physical appearance, and co-occurring illness. Journalist Jennifer Muehlenkamp, Ph.D. focuses primarily on inspecting body objectification as a crucial element in the progress and preservation of self-injury. The concept embraces that once individuals perceive their identifiable body as an thing, the consequence of co-opted social and ancestral stresses, they equally gain the ability to theoretically sever ties between their physical body and psychological being and thus hurt themselves without difficulty. A 2013 study conducted entitled Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, supports this premise. Individuals with negative self-image, who co-morbidly scored high on emotion dysregulation, were noted as ensuring greater probability to self-injure than persons with reduced emotional standard yet normal self-image. The conclusions advocate a hypothetically substantial cohesion between self-injury and consumption maladies, which present in up to fifty-five percent of self-injurers (Abrams M.P.H., 2013).

‘Body objectification, body devaluation, and a lack of internal bodily awareness are also prevalent in that population and to become more mindful means you have to become more in tune with your body, more connected to it, more integrated with it. (DeAngelis, 2015)’

Muehlenkamp similarly desires to research the mindfulness element of dialectical behavior therapy. Dialectical behavior therapy communicates body cognizance which could in theory destabilize an individual’s predisposition to objectify their body, therefore decreasing possibility of self-injury, she speculates.

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As an infrequent comportment, it presents in several disorders, including, borderline, histrionic, antisocial, and dissociative personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anorexia, and bulimia (American Psychological Association , 2017). As a repetitive reaction to disconcerting psychological or environmental happenings, it satisfies the criteria for an impulse control disorder (Favazza, 1992). Self-mutilation is historically viewed as a symptom of numerous psychological disorders. The concept that it has capacity to constitute a distinctive disorder alone emerged in the 1960s when a number of authors termed ‘wrist-cutting’ and ‘delicate self-cutting’ syndromes (Abrams M.P.H., 2013). In 1974, continual self-cutting was termed an impulse neurosis. In England, Catharine Morgan, a research associate, defined a ‘deliberate self-harm’ syndrome, which included self-mutilation, drug overdoses, and suicide endeavors (American Psychological Association, 2017). In 1983, researchers Harriett Pattison and Emil Kohan redefined Morgan’s syndrome in which they excluded factual suicide efforts, narcotic intoxications, and offered effective criteria. They considered the syndrome as a disorder of impulse control. In 1986, psychologists J. Hubert Lacey and C. D. H. Evans offered a ‘multi-impulsive disorder’ that encompassed transposable indicators such as binging, drug abuse, alcohol dependency, kleptomania, and self-mutilation. American psychiatrist and writer Armando Favazza further developed this concept of a distinct syndrome to which he renamed, repetitive self-mutilation (Favazza, 1992) .

Repetitive self-mutilation, also known as self-harm, typically transpires privately in a ritualistic manner that habitually leaves superficial skin lacerations. Individuals who self-injure usually employ many different methods to inflict themselves harm. Distress can trigger urges to self-injure. A large portion of individuals self-injure only a limited amount and terminate. For incalculable others, self-injury becomes a continuing and repetitive behavior (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK), 2012).

Non-suicidal self-injury is thought to be the result of an incapability to cope in strong ways with inner agony where as an individual has difficulties amending, conveying, or accepting feelings (ICW Group, 2018). The combination of emotions that prompts self-injury is multifaceted. For example, the manifestation of triviality, seclusion, anxiety, rage, onus, refutation, self-denigration, or disorganized sexuality. By utilization of self-injury, the person could be attempting to cope with or diminish severe anguish or disquiet and deliver a sense of reprieve. Other goals of self-injurious behavior are to offer a diversion from agonizing emotions through fleshly discomfort, to gain a feeling of control over their bodies, emotions, or circumstances, to feel to some degree or everything or else feeling expressively void, to express internalizations as externalized, to explain melancholy to others, or as penance for alleged errors (Shammas, 2018).

There are some influences that may increase the threat of self-injury. Individuals with self-injurious friends, victims of neglect, abuse victims, or those who experienced severe trauma. These individuals could now be adults in an unbalanced domestic setting, or adolescents and teens inquisitorial about their sexuality. Most sufferers are socially secluded, very self-critical, and lack adequate problem-solving skills. Furthermore, self-injury is generally connected with definite mental illnesses. These include borderline personality, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, manic depressive, and eating disorders. An increasing number of self-injurious people exhibit the negative behaviors while under the influence of drugs and alcohol (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

When the self-injury is co-occurring with a mental health illness like borderline personality disorder, the treatment concentration will be on the illness. Treatment for self-harming behavior is arduous, challenging, and an individual must possess the drive and ambition for recovery. Unfortunately, there exists no pharmaceutical maintenance practice considered to precisely treat self-injurious conduct. Management options embrace cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps individuals to identify corrupt and damaging beliefs or actions so that they can be substituted with positive and adaptive thoughts. Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of CBT that explains how to gain behavioral abilities that assist in ensuring tolerance of emotions and improvement of interpersonal relationships. Individual, family, and group therapy is also recommended.

Learning and using adequate coping skills are a necessity for an effective recovery from self-harm (National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK), 2012). Coping tactics that battle self-harming ideas include having a strong support network, avoidance of all negative thought provoking media, positive emotional expression, maintaining appropriate mental balance, and improvement of oneself.

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The Sovereignty or Malice of Self. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from
“The Sovereignty or Malice of Self.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
The Sovereignty or Malice of Self. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 May 2023].
The Sovereignty or Malice of Self [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 May 29]. Available from:
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