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Types of Self-Injury

For people who have Borderline Personality Disorder, self-injury can be embarrassing and even shocking, but may still be a very real fact of life. They may not be able to understand why they deliberately hurt themselves, and may be frightened by the fact that they do. They injure themselves by cutting (or other means) and when they do, they may feel a momentary sense of calm and/or a release of tension. Unfortunately, these feelings are quickly followed by feelings of shame and guilt and the return of other painful emotions.

Self-injury is not a suicide attempt; however, self-injury can bring with it the very real possibility of serious, and sometimes even fatal, injuries.

Self-injury, many times, is done on impulse, so it is sometimes considered an impulse-control behavior problem. It is also known as self-harm, self-injurious behavior, and self-mutilation.

Self-injury is not a specific mental illness or disorder, and is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), which is used by psychiatrists to diagnose people with mental illness. Instead, it is a type of abnormal behavior. Sometimes, it can accompany other mental disorders or illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder, but it isn’t a disorder by itself.

Self-injury is most commonly associated with cutting, involving making cuts or scratches on the person’s body. Cutting is done with any sharp object – including knives, razor blades, needles, or even fingernails.

The arms, legs, and front of the abdomen are the most frequent targets of self-injury, because these are the areas that can be easily reached, and are the best (most easily) hidden under clothes. However, any area of the body can be subject to self-injury.

Some people don't feel any pain while they're hurting themselves, even when they’re creating deep cuts. Other people do feel pain upon self-injury, but they welcome the pain as punishment, or a distraction from their emotional turmoil.

There are many other types of self-injury besides cutting, and a person may engage in one or more of them. Other types of self-injury may include:

• Burning themselves
• Poisoning or overdosing
• Scratching themselves
• Carving words or symbols on their skin
• Breaking their bones
• Hitting or punching themselves
• Piercing their skin with sharp objects
• Head banging
• Pulling out their hair
• Interfering with wound healing
• Pinching themselves
• Biting themselves

Some experts even consider over-exercising as a form of self-injury, since it is it something done in excess, and can be a form of self-punishment. Stopping medication, as well, can be considered a type of self-injury if it is done in an attempt to cause harm to the person.

About the Author

David Oliver is the founder of a one stop source of information on how to cope and deal with borderline personality disorder.

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This Week's Borderline Personality Disorder News

The Cutting Truth of Borderline Personality Disorder
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Cutting and other forms of self-mutilation may be hard for many people to understand. People who self-harm are more likely to have an underlying emotional problems, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). According to a study by German researchers, people with BPD may engage in self-injury because they get a sense of emotional relief from physical pain. BPD is a complex set of... Read More

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