Yesterday a comment had been posted asking whether it is OK to discuss self-abuse on this site. I had a look through my postings so far and did not find any specifically addressing self-harming issues. I thought it’s a very important issue for many survivors and will start off with some excerpts from the book ‘Traumatic Stress’ by B.v.d.Kolk et all.:
“One set of behaviour that is not mentioned in diagnostic criteria for PTSD is the compulsive re-exposure of some traumatised individuals to situations reminiscent of the trauma. This phenomenon can be seen in a wider range of taumatised populations.For example combat soldiers may become mercenaries, abused women may be attracted to men who mistreat them, sexually molested children may grow up to become prostitutes.
Understanding this seemingly paradoxical phenomenon is of critical importance, because it could help to clarify many forms of social deviance and interpersonal misery. Freud thought that the aim of such repetition is to gain mastery (about the hurtful past) but clinical experience shows that this rarely happens; instead, repetition causes further suffering for the victims and for people around them. In these reenactments an individual may play the role of either perpetrator or victim.
Self destructive acts are common in abused children. Studies consistently find a highly significant relationship between childhood sexual abuse and various forms of self-harm later in life, particulrly suicide attempts, cutting, and self-starving. Clinical reports show that most self-mutilators have childhood histories of physical or sexual abuse or repeated surgery.
Some conclude that self destructive activities were not primarily related to conflict, guIlt, and superego pressure, but to more primitive behaviour patterns originating in painful encounters with hostile caretakers during the first years of life.”