4 possible causes of self-injury in adolescents.
These are the main types of triggers of self-injury in adolescents.
The practice of self-injury is one of the most difficult behavioral patterns to understand: from the view of the human being as a pleasure-seeking, pain-avoiding being, this behavioral pattern makes no sense.
However, self-injury is not an extreme rarity in the repertoire of behaviors that people may engage in. In fact, it is estimated that about 4% of people in the United States self-injure to a lesser or greater degree of severity, and about 1% inflict serious injuries with some regularity.
In addition, it is known that the age group that falls into these behaviors most frequently consists of adolescents and young adults. In this article we will review possible causes of self-injury in adolescents.
What do we mean by self-injury?
When in Psychology we talk about self-injury, we are referring to a practice (i.e., a pattern of behavior) that consists of inflicting harm on oneself and that is linked to the experience of physical pain. It is a predisposition to a predisposition to perform deliberate actions against oneself, physically and emotionally.. In fact, the term "self-harm" is sometimes used to refer to this phenomenon.
However, it should be noted that behind the habit of self-injury there is usually no emotion of anger or any feeling linked to aggression. It is not necessary for the person to consider that he or she is "punishing" himself or herself for something, nor that he or she is performing an act of moral compensation, as we shall see. The bottom line is that self-injury is a pain-producing action.regardless of whether one seeks to end one's own life or not.
5 causes of self-injury in adolescence
Adolescence is a psychologically complex stage: it involves going through a transition from childhood and adulthood.It involves a transition from roles of helplessness and dependence on parents to one of emancipation and assumption of responsibilities.
In addition, it is necessary to adapt to this new status while the body undergoes rapid physical transformations, which can lead to complexes about one's appearance.
To this must be added the interest adolescents have in finding acceptance and validation from their peers: they no longer try to look like their peers.They no longer try to look like their parents, they now want to become "independent" of their peers and be one of the gang, with all that this entails.
Forging one's own identity while seeking to please others is very complex, and makes young people vulnerable to toxic dynamics: popularity competitions, marginalization and bullying situations, managing the fear of rejection when first trying to have a partner, etc.
Taking this into account, it is beginning to be intuited why this age group may have a greater predisposition to develop certain psychological problems, as they have a somewhat different profile from the rest of the population.
Technically, the number of triggers of a psychological problem that lead a young person to self-injury is practically infinite; there are as many problematic psychological mechanisms as there are individuals. These causes of self-injury may include factors such as traumatic situations experienced in childhood, a physical illness that causes constant discomfort, insecurities about one's own body, and so on.The causes of self-injury, feelings of guilt, and, in short, an endless list of human experiences linked to discomfort.
However, in practice it is possible to identify some very common causes of self-injury in adolescents. Here are the main ones.
1. Anxiety management
As we have seen, adolescents face many possible sources of anxiety. Self-injury is used by some to "disconnect" from these worries and anxious thoughts. from those worries and anxious thoughts, by being forced to focus on the here and now of physical pain.
2. Guilt management
In some cases, self-injury is a mechanism with which the person tries to punish himself/herself in order to stop tries to punish himself in order to stop feeling bad for something unfair that he believes he has done..
Lack of judgment about what to expect from people can lead some young people to develop unrealistic expectations about what is expected of them and how they should behave.
3. Establishment of semi-conscious self-injurious routines.
In some cases, self-injury is an action performed almost unconsciously, especially if there is no need to use an object to perform it (e.g. biting a certain part of the hands or arms). In this sense, it resembles disorders such as trichotillomania, in which a behavior is ritualized by linking it to stress.. In this way, the person does not know when he/she performs these actions, nor why.
4. Associated psychopathologies
Sometimes, self-injury is the result of a psychological disorder with its own causes and triggers.
Borderline Personality Disorder is a psychopathology in which frequent self-injury is a common occurrence.. It also occurs with major depression and some dissociative disorders.
Are you interested in starting a psychotherapy process?
If you are looking for psychotherapy services for adults or adolescents, please contact me; I offer professional psychological support both in person in Malaga and through the format of online therapy by video call.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)