Sunday, June 26, 2011

Emptness inside (2) self injury

Yesterday we looked at addiction as an expression of emptiness inside.  Another way to fill the emptiness is to fill it, not with reward and happiness, but with secret pain and shame.

This is an extract from a self injury site:
One of the most common factors connected to SI is shame. ‘Shame is a powerful emotion, able to alter thoughts, feelings, and even behaviors.’ Any shame or embarrassment that comes from SI can have a big effect on all parts of a self-injurers life such as friendships, school, and job performance. Also, shame is often a feeling that precedes SI, coming from events that happened earlier in the individual’s life. As has been stated earlier there is a obvious relationship between self-injury and child abuse. For many self-injurers, SI-ing is connected with a traumatic childhood. Feelings of shame and embarrassment often follow the traumas they have experienced. Many people who have been abused feel that it is their fault, that they somehow encouraged, initiated, or/and deserved the abuse. 
Self harm is a paradoxical way to feel better.  Although cutting yourself causes bleeding and pain and leaves you scarred for life, the commonest reaction is shame. Self harming takes place in a cycle of shame, where the self-harm causes shame and the shame leads to further cutting, which is done in secret. The cycle is exactly the same as in binge eating disorder where the consumption of too much food causes shame which triggers off another binge. In the same way as the food addict is on a shame trip, so is the self-harmer.

This is the classic "shame trip" of the addict.  Most self-harmers are women. It seems that self injury is rapidly displacing eating disorders as the most serious mental and physical health problem in the USA.
Self-harm is assumed to be related to some forgotten trauma, such as abuse during childhood or a traumatic birth.

Self-injurers commonly report they feel empty inside, lonely, not understood by others and fearful of intimate relationships. Its a way to make inner pain manifest and visible. "Can you see my pain?"  was a TV documentary produced by Wisconsin Public television and NEWIST/CESA. They are usually women, and they seem to find it hard to articulate their feelings. They have an insatiable need for love and acceptance.  The secretive nature of Self Injury also increases the feelings of shame and isolation, which continues the cycle of self-injury.


Isolation and alienation
Self Injury is a behavior that's rarely discussed in society and has not been exposed by the media; and for these reasons you might have felt alone. You may feel different or "crazy" or abnormal.  Another source of shame is feeling unable to control your SI behavior. You may feel that hurting yourself means you are weak. You may have tried to stop SI-ing but found yourself unable to, which may cause feelings of failure and regret. 

There is fact a rational and intelligent reason why a woman may secretly scar herself  in this way: this is a physical echo of an emotional wound, a coded message from long ago in the womb, when a womb twin brother abandoned her.  When her boyfriend abandoned her for another girl, she was plunged into her personal black hole.  The shame of survivor guilt and the pain of loss acted together to produce this  seemingly bizarre behaviour.  She was once abandoned by  her womb twin, and she has scarred her body as a memorial to him. 


  1. I am crying as I watch Amy's account of cutting herself to feel alive, to feel better if only for a few fleeting minutes... I couldn't relate more, as I, too, did the same thing for several years. I started in the late seventies and not even the doctors understood it. I did eventually stop, but it is an experience I will never forget, nor should I forget. I wish I had known Amy when she was going through all that, to hug her and tell her things will get better. Amy, I pray all that is past you now and you can see yourself for the beautiful, wonderful, special person that you are. God bless you Amy. and remember, you are loved!!!

  2. Did you do this because you too are a womb twin survivor? Do you still feel empty inside? Do not hesitate to contact me via my web site - I can help.