Dear Dr. Laura,
I am commenting to your subject of self-harm. I have engaged in self harm in the past. It is an issue I still struggle with. I have not cut since February 1, 2013. For me, it is a quick way to relieve intense emotional pain. The physical pain numbs out the emotional pain. Then sometimes I will feel great relief or nothing. I also seem to feel the need to have an injury. When I have a scar that is healing I feel safer. It’s like if I’m hurt maybe I won’t be hurt more. Also it is a visible representation of how bad I sometimes feel. I am seeing a therapist to work on these issues. She has helped a great deal. She is helping me work through the trauma of childhood sexual and physical abuse.
I think that sometimes pop culture can sensationalize self-injury. This is sad because it can dull people to the true problem that this kind of behavior indicates. It also may give teens the suggestion and idea that hurting themselves may make them feel better. Like many problematic behaviors, self-injury is addictive. Once it becomes a perceived solution to emotional pain it is hard to think of other ways to truly comfort and resolve the issues. Self-harm is a quick fix. The obsession and compulsion is much the same as that with drugs or alcohol, which I have also struggled with. The good news though is that people can heal and recover if they are willing to do the work and maintain their recovery.
Thank you for bringing up this important topic.