Self-Harming: We All Do It

When stress becomes overwhelming, acts of self-harm may tip into self-injury.

This month, UK charities reported that reduction in mental health services during the coronavirus pandemic has left existing and would-be patients struggling to cope, putting them at greater risk of self-harm or suicide attempts. To many people, injuring one’s own body by cutting, burning, stabbing or trying to remove it violently from existence feels incomprehensible. So, at this difficult time for everyone, it is crucial to understand what lies behind self-harming behaviour.

Human givens practitioner Emily Gajewski, who delivers a sensitive and highly valuable online course called, “Overcoming Self-Harm,” says, “Although self-injury can be quite difficult to relate to, the mechanism of self-harm is something that is common to all of us.” She views it as a continuum: “At its beginning are behaviours like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, negative self-talk, spending money you haven’t got, gambling, or being promiscuous in a way that is harmful to ourselves.”

One or more of these behaviours may strike a chord with us as something we may resort to when under more life stress than we can currently cope with. So someone may have that extra glass of wine (or three), reach for a cigarette when they gave up years ago, turn to novelty sex as a way to zone out of problems for a while, or seek the high of placing a bet that just might transform their fortunes.

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