Self-mutilation or self-injury is any form of self-harm inflicted on your body without the intent to commit suicide. Self-mutilation is a compulsive act that may be performed to release emotional pain, anger, or
; to rebel against authority; to flirt with risk-taking; or to feel in control. In some cases, the behavior is outside your emotional control and related to a neurological or metabolic disorder.
The behavior is not considered socially appropriate. It is also not part of a religious custom or a form of art.
Self-mutilation is a severe impulse control disorder that is often associated with other psychiatric disorders, such as:
Self-mutilation can be difficult to diagnose. People who self-mutilate often feel guilty and ashamed about their behavior and may try to hide it. A doctor may first see the physical harm caused by self-mutilation. To be diagnosed, symptoms should meet the following criteria:
Preoccupation with physically harming oneself
Inability to resist self-injurious behavior resulting in tissue damage
Increased tension before and a sense of relief after self-injury
Having no suicidal intent in the self-mutilation
To make an accurate diagnosis, the psychologist or psychiatrist will assess other conditions, like personality or mood disorders, and whether there is suicidal intent.
Treatment usually includes medical and psychological treatment, as well as medications.
A doctor will assess whether care needs to be provided immediately to prevent further harm due to ingestion, wound, or other bodily harm.
This assessment may be administered to assess a person’s mental capacity, level of distress, and presence of mental illness.
Psychologic treatment may be done either one-to-one or in a group setting. It is usually aimed at finding and treating the underlying emotional difficulty,
, or disorder. It may also include
cognitive behavioral therapy
Medications used include:
The best preventative measure is to get help as soon as possible for depression, trauma, emotional problems, or other disorders that may lead to self-mutilation.
Database of abstracts of reviews and effects (DARE). Psychosocial interventions following self harm: systematic review of their efficacy in preventing suicide. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination website. Available at:
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder
. 4th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a