Afflictions of The Soul: The Truth Behind Self-Injury

Copyright, Lauren Morante

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There was a case study of a young girl in an Arizona institution a few years back. She was only 16 at the time, roughly the same age as me. She claimed she had an irresistible urge to take out her own eye. So she did. A few nights later, she removed her other oculus.

Now that I’ve got your attention, my personal interest project is to research the controversial topic, of the truth behind self-injury. As this is a difficult issue, I must tread carefully. Through this assignment I want to show other people what self-injury really is, and what it entails. There are too many misconceptions about this particular disorder, and consequently, self-injurers are treated in my micro and wider world like social pariahs.

Many people, in society cringe at the sound of the phrase “Self-injury”. A person deliberately harming themselves. Who would think of doing such a thing? Our community’s common fallacies and reactions towards this act tend to be negative, which isn’t helpful to those who self-injure.

I have chosen this for my selected topic for a number of reasons. One of them being that I have had a lot of people around me involved in this, and want to gain a deeper insight into this problem. When friends were “outed” with their habits exposed, many friends and family members reacted with hostility, fear, and negative worry.

Throughout the following pages I will be investigating the clinical definition of self injury, the different stages of SI, as well as self-injurer’s definitions of the disorder. What happens in the lead up to beginning on this path, what occurs during the course of self injury, and what happens when it’s all brought into the open.

Also, to add a future cross-cultural element, I will be examining the fine line between self injury and body modification, and how the two are closely related. The means of investigating this will be through the distribution of surveys, interviews with tattoo artists, and a collection of secondary research on this issue.

I have performed a total of 13 interviews, with school counsellors and psychologists, past and present self-harmers, as well as surveying the general public on their opinions of the disorder. Most of the interviews, as well as the survey, were conducted over the internet, as I found this to be the best method for receiving in-depth answers, and at the same time, granting the participants total anonymity. I also obtained an article from a British medical journal displaying the results of a survey conducted at a large number of schools, to determine the percentage of adolescents that self-injure. These results will be incorporated into this assessment.

This study will be based around the concepts of Persons, Society, Culture, and Environment. What age or gender is more likely to self-injure? Which of society’svalues and beliefs impact on the nature of self-harm? Are certain cultures accepting of this practice? And what kind of environment “breeds” a self harmer? All these questions and more shall be answered in this paper.

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