Voices of Injury and Harm: The Folk Psychology of Self-Injury and a Narrative Analysis of Online Forums
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The tendencies and folk psychology of self-injury were studied through the analysis of online forums and personal memoirs. The majority of individuals who self-injure have similar fears and thoughts regarding self-injury, such as fears of hitting an artery or being revealed.as a self-injurer, and feeling guilt and shame about their behavior. They also display a similar desire to quit self-injuring, with the awareness that it is a harmful act, from which it was difficult to abstain. They reported that self-injury had ad~ictive elements. The reasons or triggers for many of the posters begin with a stress event or overwhelming feelings. Individuals who self-injure also discussed similar issues in their lives. These issues were categorized as relational (familial, romantic, and social) and identity (regarding weight, sexuality, and perfection). The self-injury acts as a shield or numbing agent to those feelings, for some it gives control back to the individual. Others experience self-injury as self-punishment. The most commonly used instrument of selfinjury was a blade, more specifically knife or razor. This behavior is proposed as akin to a maladaptive and harmful defense mechanism, which is used to cope with stressful overwhelming feelings. The individuals who self-injure also have similar maladaptive traits which can be separated into categories associated with mental functions, emotions, and social functioning. They tend to be extremely self-critical, and -punishing. They have poor emotion regulation, low distress tolerance, high emotional reactivity, and poor problem solving skills. Socially they tend to have inadequate communication skills and maladaptive attachment tendencies. These traits explain their need for a cooping or defense mechanism. Researchers should begin to make better use of the internet for qualitative and quantitative data collection.
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