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Self destructive behaviour

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Hi dr catalyst,

Can you help me with my self harm?

I have a lot of destructive impulses that I struggle to control. I have self harmed for a number of years to end flashbacks & ground myself in the present. I need to see physical damage to my body, and I am now highly desensitised to pain. The usual distractive mechanisms like ice, drawing, snapping a rubber band etc do nothing to lessen my impulses and sometimes it will increase them.

I will also reenact my trauma (sexual abuse) during flashbacks, by causing harm to my genitals.

While I understand the damage I am causing myself is bad, I feel like I deserve it and my body deserves its punishments.

What can you suggest I try, and do you have any insight on why I find this behaviour so hard to stop?
 
Hi dr catalyst,

Can you help me with my self harm?

I have a lot of destructive impulses that I struggle to control. I have self harmed for a number of years to end flashbacks & ground myself in the present. I need to see physical damage to my body, and I am now highly desensitised to pain. The usual distractive mechanisms like ice, drawing, snapping a rubber band etc do nothing to lessen my impulses and sometimes it will increase them.

I will also reenact my trauma (sexual abuse) during flashbacks, by causing harm to my genitals.

While I understand the damage I am causing myself is bad, I feel like I deserve it and my body deserves its punishments.

What can you suggest I try, and do you have any insight on why I find this behaviour so hard to stop?
I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling with self-harm and destructive impulses. It's a challenging and complex issue, and I'm here to help you.

One of the first steps to take is to seek professional help from a therapist or mental health provider who specializes in trauma and self-harm. A therapist can help you develop a personalized plan tailored to your specific needs and guide you through your journey towards recovery.

Here are a few suggestions that may be helpful:

- Try to identify what triggers your self-harming impulses. Are there specific situations, people, or places that increase these urges? Once you have identified your triggers, you can start to develop coping mechanisms to manage them better.
- Try alternative coping mechanisms such as mindfulness, grounding techniques, and breathing exercises. Practicing mindfulness and breathing can help calm you down and reduce stress levels. Grounding techniques such as focusing on your sensory experiences can help you stay present and cope with unpleasant emotions.
- Using self-compassion techniques, it is vital to train yourself to be kind to yourself to enhance your self-esteem and resilience, which can reduce your risk of self-harm.
- It is understandable that you may have low self-esteem and may blame yourself for what happened; however, blaming yourself is counterproductive to your mental health goals. You can work with a therapist to develop self-compassion skills to increases self-esteem and emotional regulation.
- Develop a safety plan with your therapist. A safety plan can help you anticipate and manage self-harming impulses when they arise.
- Take care of your physical health. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and engage in physical activity. Working to enhance your physical health and welbeing will help to reduce stress levels.

Regarding the underlying causes, self-harm can be a way to cope with overwhelming emotions, thoughts, and memories related to trauma. It is common for individuals who have experienced trauma to feel "numb" or disconnected from their emotions or have intense emotions that they cannot manage. Self-harm is a way of expressing and releasing these feelings.

It is crucial to seek professional help and work towards healing the underlying issues. With the right support, it is possible to manage these impulses and heal from your past trauma.
 
It is very hard to talk to a therapist about genital self harm because of my shame and disgust. How would I talk to someone face to face about something I am deeply embarrassed to reenact and I am so ashamed of what I let happen in the first place. I am not brave enough to expose myself to another person incase they judge me.
 
It is very hard to talk to a therapist about genital self harm because of my shame and disgust. How would I talk to someone face to face about something I am deeply embarrassed to reenact and I am so ashamed of what I let happen in the first place. I am not brave enough to expose myself to another person incase they judge me.
It's understandable that it can be difficult and uncomfortable to share your experiences of genital self-harm with another person, including a therapist. It's important to remember that therapists are professionals who are trained to be non-judgmental and understanding towards their clients. Their primary goal is to help you heal and recover, and they will not judge you for what you tell them.

It may be helpful to start by talking to your therapist about your fears and concerns around sharing this information. You might say, "I feel really embarrassed and ashamed to talk about something I do that's very personal and private. But I know it's important for me to share it with you so we can work on it together."

You may also find it helpful to take small steps towards opening up. For example, you could write down your experiences of self-harm first and bring it to a therapy session or tell your therapist that you want to talk about self-harm without mentioning the nature of the self-harm initially.

It's important to remember that therapists have likely heard a wide range of experiences from clients and are trained to respond empathetically and humanely. You do not have to face your struggles alone, and your therapist is there to support you in your journey of healing.

If you feel uncomfortable or judged by your therapist, it's essential to remember that you have the right to find a new therapist who is a better match for you.
 
My therapist doesn’t know the specifics of the damage that was done during the abuse. This is the part that replays when I have flashbacks, and then I carry out the damage myself. Will they need to know specifics of the act to be able to help me? They know I engage in self harm, but they don’t know I also harm my genitals. I am worried as soon as I mention it they will feel disgusted by me. I feel dirty and ashamed just talking about it to you.
 
My therapist doesn’t know the specifics of the damage that was done during the abuse. This is the part that replays when I have flashbacks, and then I carry out the damage myself. Will they need to know specifics of the act to be able to help me? They know I engage in self harm, but they don’t know I also harm my genitals. I am worried as soon as I mention it they will feel disgusted by me. I feel dirty and ashamed just talking about it to you.
I hear your concerns about sharing the details of the abuse with your therapist, and it's essential to take time to work up to sharing specific aspects of the abuse at a pace that feels comfortable for you. It is not uncommon for individuals to feel ashamed or embarrassed about discussing the abuse's details with their therapist.

Remember that the goal of therapy is to help you heal and recover from trauma. Your therapist is there to support and guide you through your healing journey and will not judge or feel disgusted by you for your experience. It's important to remember that therapy is a confidential and non-judgmental space for you to share your experiences.

As you feel more comfortable, you may want to explore sharing the specific details of the abuse and its impact on you, including self-harm to your genitals. It is not uncommon for individuals who have experienced sexual abuse to engage in self-harm in this area. Your therapist can help you explore the underlying causes of the self-harm and work with you to develop strategies and techniques to cope with traumatic memories.

It may be helpful to schedule a specific time to discuss this topic with your therapist so that you have time to prepare beforehand. This can help to alleviate some of the anxiety around bringing it up.

Remember that healing from trauma is a process, and it's essential to take things at a pace that feels manageable for you. Your therapist is there to support you and help you heal at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
 
Can you give me a statistic on how common genital self harm is in individuals that have experienced sexual abuse?
 
Can you give me a statistic on how common genital self harm is in individuals that have experienced sexual abuse?
It's difficult to provide a specific statistic on the prevalence of genital self-harm in individuals who have experienced sexual abuse since self-harm and specific body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are often underreported and stigmatized.

However, studies have shown that self-harm and BFRBs, including self-harm of the genitals, are more common in individuals who have experienced sexual abuse than in the general population. For example, a study published in the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation found that individuals who reported a history of childhood sexual abuse were more likely to engage in self-harm, including self-harm of the genitals, than individuals who did not have such a history.

It's worth noting that self-harm can take many different forms and is not limited to genital self-harm. Self-harm can include cutting or burning one's skin, pulling out hair, hitting oneself, banging one's head against a wall, biting oneself, and other forms of self-injury. It can also include BFRBs such as hair pulling, skin picking, and nail biting.

Regardless of the form that self-harm takes, it's essential to address it with the help of a mental health professional who can provide support and guidance in developing healthier coping mechanisms.
 
Why do I feel better when I destroy my own body? I don’t feel any regret or remorse after the act of doing it?
 
Why do I feel better when I destroy my own body? I don’t feel any regret or remorse after the act of doing it?
It's important to understand that self-harm is a complex issue that can serve many different purposes for different people. Self-harm behavior can temporarily provide a sense of relief or release from intense emotions, including depression, anxiety, and anger.

The act of self-harm can also provide a sense of control over one's body when someone feels out of control in other areas of their life. Engaging in self-harm can help individuals to feel a sense of accomplishment or achievement when they may not have that feeling in other areas of their life.

However, it's important to remember that while choosing to harm oneself may provide temporary relief, it is ultimately not a healthy coping mechanism to deal with difficult emotions. There are many other healthy ways to manage emotions, such as talking to a trusted friend or family member, seeking professional help, practicing relaxation techniques, and engaging in physical activities that provide a sense of relaxation, such as yoga or meditation.

It's also possible that after you engage in self-harm, you feel a sense of numbness or dissociation from your feelings. This is not uncommon for individuals who have experienced trauma or have difficulty with emotion regulation. This sense of numbness can be a protective mechanism against intense emotional pain.

Seeking professional help from a mental health provider with experience in working with trauma and self-harm can be beneficial in identifying healthy coping strategies and working towards healing from past hurts. It's important to remember that healing is a process and that it's never too late to seek help.
 
Do you believe that self harm can be an addictive coping mechanism, like alcohol or drugs?
 
Do you believe that self harm can be an addictive coping mechanism, like alcohol or drugs?
Yes, self-harm can sometimes become an addictive coping mechanism. The temporary sense of relief that self-harm can provide, combined with the release of endorphins, can create a cycle of addiction.

Like addiction to drugs or alcohol, self-harm behavior can become compulsive and can lead to a need for increased frequency and intensity of self-harm to achieve the same sense of relief. This cycle can be difficult to break without professional help.

Engaging in self-harm behavior can also create a difficulty in finding healthier coping mechanisms since the individual has come to rely on self-harm as a way of managing emotional distress.

It's important to seek help from a mental health professional if you or someone you know is struggling with self-harm, especially if the behavior has become addictive. With the help of a mental health professional, you can develop healthy coping strategies to manage emotional distress and work towards healing from past hurts.
 
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