Self-Mutilation: What is it and how is it Treated?

When an individual is participating in self-mutilation, it is important to know everything there is to know about it in order to help.

Females are the ones who mostly hurt themselves in this way, but males may become victims of self-mutilation as well, especially when he or she are either teens or young adults.

It is key to act quickly when it becomes evident that the individuals are causing themselves intentional harm. This can begin with the proper research into what self-mutilation actually is and how it is treated.

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What is it?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, self-mutilation is defined as individuals deliberately harming him or herself, usually without the intention of killing themselves. Self-mutilation can include cutting him or herself with sharp objects such as a razor or knife, burning his or her skin with cigarettes, candles, or matches, punching things such as a wall, pulling out hair, breaking or bruising the body, etc.

Many times this is done to relieve feelings of loneliness, anger, or hopelessness through pain. Thankfully, there are many ways to treat someone who uses self-mutilation as a coping method.

Psychological & Medical Treatment


Self-Mutilation is often done to distract from emotional pain.

There are two types of psychological treatments: general and specific. With general treatment, the individual’s counseling will not be centered on just the self-mutilation, but also on the overall therapy of the person as a whole in order to curb and stop the self-harming behavior.

While this has worked in the past for some individuals, it has not been shown to have the highest success rate.

The therapy with the highest success rates are those that are specific to self-mutilation. Specific treatment can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a short-term therapy that focuses on the core reason for the self-mutilation, as well as the emotions that are associated with it and teaches the individual alternative coping methods.

Another therapy in this category that is known for its effectiveness is dialectical behavior therapy, which is used to treat with personality disorders that are related to self-mutilation behaviors.

In rare cases, an individual who suffers from self-mutilation can be treated if they have a dual diagnosis, such as depression. The medication can help them with handle their emotions in order to stop them from causing themselves further injury.

More often than not, medication is not used because he or she may use it to cover up emotions that should be worked through in order to stop the self-mutilation.

Treatment Centers can help

When therapies or medication does not work, it is a good idea to enroll the individual in a self-harm treatment center to receive treatment that is more extensive. These centers will offer programs such as inpatient, outpatient, and group psychotherapy.

There are many types of caregivers offered as well that can help the person to escape from the urge to hurt themselves, such as psychiatrists, clinical therapists, etc.

When a loved one turns to self-mutilation, it can be terrifying. However, there are options to help them learn new ways of coping with the problems in their lives through therapy, treatment centers, and in rare cases, medication.

According to the Better Health Channel, despite the destructive behavior of self-mutilation, it makes the person feel as though they can better manage their strong emotions, which makes it very important to find them help in learning to cope with those emotions in a more positive way.

If you or a loved one is suffering from self-mutilation and needs help, call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) to speak with a caring specialist that can assist you.

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