This post is a review of some literature I have read and used. This is useful information for parents, family, friends and loved ones of those struggling with self-injury and for the individual themselves. However, due to the nature of the content some may find it triggering (though the language is changed to keep in policy with S.A.F.E. guidelines). Hopefully you can get some good use of the information I’m sharing.
This is a bit of an odd post but hopefully it gives some encouragement to those of us struggling with self-injury.
I am a psychology student in university and I want to study self-injury for my degree/specialty. I’m in the middle of doing a research project for school and I thought I’d share some of the information I found regarding treatment and clinical understanding of SI.
First, I think one of the most important developments, is that the new edition of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is going to recognize and include an entry for non-suicidal self-injury disorder (NSSI). This means that doctors and psychology professionals are recognizing self-injury as a disorder and not just ‘a phase’ or something that is present when you have a different disorder like depression or anxiety. It is a HUGE step for recovery and treatment. Previously, SI has only been recognized in Borderline Personality Disorder as a criteria, and never as its own diagnosis. The new entry will separate self-injury from self-mutilation and give a better understanding of the behavior to doctors and everyone else in general.
I also came across an study that claims there is a strong link between SI and the opioid system in the body. Apparently there is a bit of research that claims SI should be treated as an addiction, and the physical effects of SI are similar to the effects of opiates (a variety of drugs) on the body. Some researchers have said that the SI behavior artificially stimulates (fools the body) the endogenous opioid system similar to taking opiates.
Hopefully some of this gives a better explanation to NSSI and the reasoning for it.
Remember: hope is real, help is real, and recovery is possible!