Self Injury

Understanding Self Injurious Behaviors

There are some healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with the stress of challenges we face at work, school, or with family, friends, our pasts, and our future. Some individuals deal with their stresses through self injurious behavior. Self injury is harming your body on purpose and doing so in a way that is not life threatening. It is estimated that about one to two million people in the United States intentionally and repeatedly bruise, cut, burn, mark, scratch, and mutilate different parts of their own bodies (Ferentz, 2002). And college students are no exception to this statistic.

Self injurious behaviors do not just include cutting or scratching. Other forms of self injury could include reckless driving, shoplifting, sexual promiscuity or unprotected sex, substance abuse and eating-disordered behaviors (Ferentz, 2002). However, not all behaviors that are painful are considered self injurious. Tattoos, body piercings, and other body art do not fall into this category. Additionally, in different cultures, there are rituals and rites of passage that entail pain to the body, but are more socially acceptable.

  • Resource: Ferentz, L.R. (2002). Understanding Self Injurious Behavior,, electronic newsletter, 6 (2), November/December 2001.

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