Understanding Self-Harm

Self-harm is the deliberate infliction of damage to your own body, and includes cutting, burning, and other forms of injury. While cutting can look like attempted suicide, it's often not; most people who mutilate themselves do it as a way to regulate mood. People who hurt themselves in this way may be motivated by a need to distract themselves from inner turmoil, or to quickly release anxiety that builds due to an inability to express intense emotions.

Recent Posts on Self-Harm

Self-Harm Websites and Teens Who Visit Them

By Michele Ybarra MPH, Ph.D. on July 29, 2015 in Connected
A very small percent of youth visit websites about self-harm. But on the Internet, followings on one self-harm site can number in the thousands. Are these sites harmful for youth who visit them, or do they provide some social support?

5 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Say

If you find yourself saying any of these phrases, consider it a warning sign that you could be making a bad decision.

Feeling Bad? Here's What You Shouldn't Do.

Overcompensating for failure could be your downfall.

Masturbation: Will the Controversy Never Cease?

By Michael Castleman M.A. on June 15, 2015 in All About Sex
Not everyone masturbates, but if you do, it’s fine, even daily, even if you're happily coupled.

Some Reasons Why People Kill Themselves

By Fredric Neuman M.D. on June 07, 2015 in Fighting Fear
The reasons that someone may commit suicide are more varied and complicated than usually thought. Depression is the most common cause, but not the only cause.

Reflections on ‘Montage of Heck’

Cobain is the poster child for emotional devastation. And yet, at the same time, there is something in his music which resonates powerfully with his generation. This documentary affords us a view as to how it all got established and played itself out – his pain, his shame, his his inability to relate, his drug addiction, his art, his suicide.

Prom Night and the Kids Are Going to Drink: What Do You Do?

Early exposure to alcohol in the home can be harmful to children if it leads to drunkenness, but coaching kids on how to drink responsibly at the prom may keep them safer than just preaching abstinence.

Break the Self-Betrayal Habit

By Kimberly Key on May 12, 2015 in Counseling Keys
People generally fear the disapproval of others—society, family, a first crush, bullies, or fear being different and alone. To compensate, sometimes people will work harder to acquire money and possessions, sex, love, food, alcohol, drugs, constant relocating and starting over, and/or isolating. Here is what you can do to identify and heal the source so many bad habits.

Can Psychological Screening Prevent Pilot Suicide?

For every intentional crash there are hundreds of unintentional crashes. The money spent on a wild goose chase trying to keep a suicidal pilot from intentionally crashing would be better spent on training non-suicidal pilots to prevent unintentional (pilot error) crashes.

Suicide Alert: The Spring Season Can Be Deadly

Suicide Alert: Springtime can be a deadly season.

Wishful Thinking

By Eyal Winter on April 22, 2015 in Feeling Smart
How we can ignore facts we don't like.

Helping Clients Reconnect with Their Bodies

Clients with histories of physical and sexual abuse or neglect are often chronically disconnected from their bodies. Therapists should be mindful of the fact that survivors of abuse and neglect are likely to live in this state of physical detachment. Helping clients safely reconnect to their bodies is vitally important.

Teenagers Are From Earth

Our black-and-white thinking about adolescence is getting in our way.

Using Art to 'Touch' Someone in a Juvenile Detention Center

Guest blogger and artist Elise Lunsford describes a unique and creative approach to promote reconnection and healing with a difficult client in a juvenile detention facility. In forensic settings, clinicians are warned not to touch the inmates. She demonstrates that art can allow us to reach out and touch those who therapists would otherwise hesitate to touch.

Troubled Waters

The nature and scope of youth suicide is changing, and not for the better.

Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors

By The Book Brigade on March 03, 2015 in The Author Speaks
The millions of teens and adults who engage in self-destructive behavior do so because they never learned more constructive ways of soothing themselves in moments of distress. Many have engaged in such behaviors for so long that they can't envision a way out. But it's possible to replace self-destructive acts with kinder means of coping.

What Do Your Tweets Reveal About You?

It makes sense that we could tell something about someone’s political leanings based on their Twitter rants, but can we tell more about a person from their tweets?

How to Help a Self-Destructive Partner (and What Not to Do)

As Valentine’s Day approaches, couples become more mindful of the ways in which they can show their love through caring gestures and gifts. However, many people are in a relationship with a significant other who is grappling with some form of self-destructive behavior. Learn the do's and don'ts that can help you navigate this difficult and emotionally charged issue.

Why Are Men More Likely Than Women To Take Their Own Lives?

Efforts to prevent suicide must take into account some apparently paradoxical differences between men and women

Overprotective Parenting Doesn't Work

As it turns out, negotiating real-life, reasonable risk can be a very good thing for kids. It can teach them that they have power in this world--or someday will. That they’re competent. And that sometimes, if you really really want something to happen, you have to MAKE it happen, without mom or dad’s help--even if it’s scary to try.

Doctors Need to Listen More

By Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. on January 26, 2015 in Am I Right?
A keen listener is a good diagnostician. Doctors once knew this.

Inheriting Suicide

By Mark Borigini M.D. on January 25, 2015 in Overcoming Pain
According to the current psychiatric literature, adoption, twin, and family studies have established that suicidal behavior is familial. Disturbingly, what is passed down from generation to generation is suicide or suicide attempts, and not just suicidal ideation. Photo: Google.

Healing the Shame of Childhood Abuse Through Self-Compassion

Shame can be the most damaging effect of child abuse--compassion is its anecdote.

Bill Cosby’s Legal Team: Playing Hardball with PTSD Victims

By Deborah King on January 07, 2015 in Mining the Headlines
You've been drugged and sexually assaulted. How would you feel about talking about it?

Empty Incubation

By G.A. Bradshaw Ph.D., Ph.D. on December 20, 2014 in Bear in Mind
Denied their native heritage, the life of captive-bred parrots reflect their colonizers' imprisoning mentality and anguished search for the bright vitality of love.

Holiday Stress

In the thick of the holiday season, it is important to set reasonable goals and realistic expectations about this time of year in order to maintain good mental health. Here's how.

Sex Addiction as a Sex-Positive Concept

The sex addiction recovery movement not only complements the progress made toward a sex-positive culture, it reinforces it. Sharing and exploring not just our greatest sexual joys and discoveries, but our struggles and pain as well, is the path to an integrated and holistic model of sexuality.

Self-Mutilation, Eating Disorders, and Suicide

Using attachment theory to explain how addictive connections to pain and suffering develop, I discuss various kinds and functions of self-harm behavior. From eating disorders to self- mutilation and body modifications such as tattooing, I explore the language of self-harm, and the translation of that language and its psychological functions.

The Spirit of Suzan Shown Harjo

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on November 05, 2014 in Brick by Brick
Suzan Shown Harjo, one of the most revered human and civil rights leaders in the country, has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of Native Peoples. Her message: “Native” team names and images are racist, they destroy the mental health of actual Native children, and this racism must stop.

Why People Cut

By Jessica Grogan Ph.D. on November 04, 2014 in Encountering America
Cutting may be more of an attempt at self-soothing than self-harming.