Self-inflicted violence is one of the types of violence for which little information is available in relation to its origin. The violence in itself tends to be a situation in which they are involved two or more people, and has the motivation some kind of conflict. However, in the case of self-inflicted violence, it presents a series of peculiarities that make it one of the most dangerous .

Injuries and other forms of attacks inflicted on the body of those who suffer it can provide sensations of pain but also satisfaction or pleasure It turns out to be complex to understand the reasons why these people begin to show these behaviors.

The affected people have no limitations in terms of gender or age, it is considered to be one of the most serious psychological problems and therefore requires professional medical attention. A number of methods can be implemented that can help prevent it.

What is self-inflicted violence?

Self-inflicted violence is defined as a behavior characterized by intentional actions that aim to cause physical but also emotional injuries. That is, the people who carry it out can perform any type of self-flogging, cuts, beatings, fractures, mutilations and other types of torture. In the most serious cases, physical ailments and diseases can be suffered, as well as death, being classified as suicides .

You will be the type of violence that will present the most difficulties in order to be properly studied. The complexity of the mental state of the people who practice it has made it difficult to identify which treatments are best adapted to this situation. It is also important to analyze what are the factors that make some people more likely to suffer from it.

Some individuals can develop these behaviors when exposed to suicidal behaviors from other people. Also the possibility of accessing information related to this topic may have an influence. But we must also consider the degree of emotional instability that some people present, in some cases it has been possible to investigate family or personal history with suicide attempts .

In the same way, the use of drugs and alcohol in combination with the suffering of certain mental illnesses such as depression , all these elements can contribute to suffering from self-inflicted violence. Finally having experienced a traumatic event is also considered as one of your antecedents.

What are their characteristics? 

This type of violence is characterized by showing negative behavior for themselves, these individuals developed a conflictive relationship with their own bodies. The injuries caused are involuntary in nature, are repetitive and occur as a form of response to certain events to which they are sensitive.

For example, some of the causes are found in depression, low self-esteem , grief or some type of affective deficiency . Various elements belonging to the environment and to the person’s social activity can contribute to their eventual development of these behaviors. The most common are mentioned below:

  • The main characteristic is hitting, cutting, biting, scratching, and various other types of bodily harm .
  • They are people who show impulsiveness in their actions . They often write that they have difficulty stopping these attacks on their own.
  • They may also have limitations or difficulties in their skills to communicate with other people. The frustration that this situation represents can cause this behavior in various situations, they can even do it publicly.
  • They are individuals who usually present deficiencies in their social skills , consequently they have little contact with other people which contributes to the learning and putting into practice of negative attitudes.
  • Patients can suffer from anxiety and stress . Both elements can be considered as direct antecedents for eventual development of aggressive behavior.
  • It has been observed that some individuals with developmental disabilities , such as intellectual disability; they are more likely to display behaviors such as self-harm.
  • The disorders behavioral including suicide usually associated with self – inflicted violence.
  • Self-harm can also be based on intentional self-poisoning. Some patients may resort to the use of dangerous chemicals and other life-threatening components.

Torture methodologies such as burns and suffocation can be applied. Producing pain is a way of expressing one’s own suffering . Some patients report that they have used this behavior as a way to free themselves from feelings of anger, loneliness, sadness , anxiety, or emotional pain. Even some disorders such as borderline personality disorder of personality or borderline personality relate to this type of violence.

How is it identified?

Patients do not usually seek help, so they keep the practice of these actions private. However, it eventually becomes easier to perceive the physical consequences of these acts. Relatives and close friends of the victims are the first to make the wake-up call.

People are at greater risk of self-inflicted violence if they are between the ages of 12 and 30. The most critical stage is during adolescence , especially for those individuals who have suffered some type of physical aggression before.

The damage can be done by poisoning or by overdose . The consequences can be fatal and the risk of suicide increases. It is important to carry out periodic medical evaluations to be able to apply the treatments indicated for these patients.

However, the most common pattern of behavior presents a diverse variety of damages caused intentionally, without there being a desire to die. The most common is to cut the skin , bite, burn, dictate and other behaviors that are aimed at sexual satisfaction.

It can also be identified by observing changes in the habitual behavior of these people. It is usual to try to hide the physical damages with the use of clothes of a larger size, they are also people who will begin to avoid having direct physical contact with other people, for example they will avoid hugs or social gatherings where bodily deterioration may be evident.

It is also common to observe blood stains on clothing and also to experience accidents that have no apparent explanation. The cuts, bruises and burns are usually located in the extremities, belly and hips.

Finally, other signs are observed in behavior, some signs may go unnoticed, such as a sudden change in mood. Signs related to low self-esteem and depression begin to be observed, as well as a greater propensity to show impulsivity and irritability. Similarly, these patients prefer isolation because they will try to avoid a confrontation if their injuries are discovered.

How does it stop?

Once a person suffering from self-inflicted violence has been effectively identified, the first step is to contact a healthcare professional to care for the patient. These individuals require the support of family and friends, it is important to understand the reasons for this behavior. 

Because the causes will always be different in each person, it is essential to try to identify the antecedents or origin in order to apply the indicated treatment. Health professionals play the role of helping to provide methods and tools for the prevention of this type of violence.

Talk to patients and ask questions to try to identify what factors have increased the likelihood of developing this behavior. Different tools will be applied for your evaluation, it is possible that you are suffering from depression, which increases the risk of suicide.

Other emotional and environmental causes must also be considered . Some diseases and other medical conditions can be the origin. Interventions that address not only the needs of the patient, but also their family, are recommended.

More attention should be paid to suicidal behaviors and self-harm, suicidal thoughts can contribute to the consummation of the act. Excess physical strength combined with mental exertion are both factors that increase the risk of even more serious injuries. And likewise, easy access to instruments such as weapons and sharp objects should be limited.

For the treatment of these cases, psychosocial interventions based on specific psychotherapy are usually carried out. These are cognitive and behavioral therapies that help to incite positive changes in the patient’s attitudes. In the same way, they serve as a method to understand feelings and behaviors, also the intentions and degree of difficulty to face certain personal problems.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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