- Regular cravings
- Emotional release when the behaviour is performed
- Tension when abstaining
- Wanting to stop but being unable
- Cue dependence (being ‘triggered’)
- Unable to think of other things when feeling the urge
I would argue- and I think I have argued in the past- that SH is an addiction. I know that when I was stopping I felt an incredible physical reaction to not hurting myself. I was shaking and feeling very rough and only hurting myself could make me stop feeling like that.
However, it’s often not clear when an addictive craving is simply a behavioural impulse, in other words- it’s hard to draw the line regarding whether it’s a craving making someone hurt themselves or whether it’s a learned behaviour.
As well as this classing something as ‘an addiction’ is a pretty heavy move to make, it can add a lot of stigma and misunderstanding to something that is already a difficult topic and shrouded in mystery.
Another point that’s important to remember is that self injury can turn into a ritualised process, meaning that it’s not an impulse but something that can be put off until the moment is right. This indicates that the harmer has some sense of control over what they’re doing.
There are arguments for and against calling SH an addiction- personally I would class it as one, for me it seems to tick most of the right boxes, but there a lot of people who would argue against that.
So, what do you think? Is self-harm an addiction? Do you think classing it as one would be a help or hindrance to sufferers?
’til next time,