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Self-harm Research

Questions

Please read through the questions below, and if you would like to share your experience click on the link to email your response.

1. Our survey results showed that each individual act of self-harm can have a number of meanings and motivations, and these may evolve as years go by.

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What motivates self-harm, and what does self harm do?


2. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, in many cases (and, as our findings suggest, especially for those who harm frequently) the best way to help someone to reduce their self-harm may be to help them to feel alright about it.

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Write to us and tell us what you think.


3. Our survey results show that those who harm less frequently are more likely to do it in order to feel something, or to feel more real.

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Can you help us to explain this result? Please write to us.


4. What makes emotions tangible? Is it possible that people who find themselves having to resort to self-harm experience emotions in a way that makes them somehow unusually intangible?

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Write to us and tell us what you think.


5. The concept of ‘control’ is often mentioned in the context of self-harm. Over a third of our participants reported having harmed in order to feel in control.

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Can you describe this feeling of control, and what it feels like when you don't have it?


6. Is self-harm an addiction?

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Write to us and tell us what you think.


7. For those people that took part in our survey and stated that they had stopped harming, the most commonly identified driving force behind stopping was social pressure.

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Families, friends, carers... What do you think about this?


8. Quite a few participants reported that some medications (in particular, some tranquillisers and anti-depressants) had increased their self-harm, either in frequency or severity, or both. More precisely, it increased the type of self-harm that is motivated by intolerable emotional numbness, i.e. feeling too little.

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Have you had this experience? Please discuss it with your doctor, and if you'd like to, write to us to describe what you felt like.


9. Has your son/daughter/friend/sister/brother told you that they self-harm? Or did you find out some other way? What did you think and feel, how did you react? What happened then?

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Tell us your experiences and add another perspective to our report.


10. Some of our participants wrote that they never harmed deliberately, that is, in every instance their self-harm was an automatic action over which they had no conscious control, even if they were conscious of it while it was going on. What do you think? Is self-harm a symptom of illness, or something else? And how deliberate is ‘Deliberate Self Harm’ (DSH), as it is called in the academic literature?

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Write to us and tell us what you think.


11. Some of our participants were worried about being condemned if truth of their self-harm came out. Some were concerned not to disappoint, not to fail expectations. We wonder where these perceived expectations of perfect health and happiness are coming from.

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What do you think?


12. A certain kind of social sensitivity characterises many of the answers given by participants to a number of questions in the survey. For example, well over a third of those who hid their self-harm from their family did so because they worried about the potential emotional impact of disclosure on their families.

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What do you think is the relationship between social sensitivity and the ‘secret self’/’social self’ split?