It is a common misconception that people self harm in order to feel alive. Some self harmers say that they harm to take back control. As oddly worded as it sounds, they are actually closer to their genuine motivation than they realize. You may hear on TV how people self harms so that “At least I can feel something” and others saying that taking it out on themselves is better than them taking it out on others. Where this may be the case in their conscious mind, their real motivation lies in a deep feeling of helplessness. Here is how the cause results in the effect. Here are examples of how a feeling of helplessness (cause) results in self harm (effect).
The woman addicted to prescription medication
A woman hangs up her phone after getting the news that her husband is bringing home more guests from work for dinner without giving her any notice. She goes on to take harmful addictive prescription drugs and feeds her addiction to them. This addiction is her own willing form of self harm.
The inconsiderate husband was the cause (to a degree) and the self harm was done through her addiction to prescription drugs. She had deep feelings of helplessness in that she dare not confront or argue with her inconsiderate husband. This compels her to incorrectly try to regain a feeling of control through feeding what is now an addiction.
The young girl is bullied and so cuts her legs
At school a girl who has a medium body type is disliked by a popular girl. The popular girl takes out her insecurities on the young girl she does not like by picking on her about her weight. The other girls join in so that they may bond with the popular girl. The medium bodied girl cuts her inner thigh because she thinks nobody will ever see the cuts.
The cause is actually due to her helpless feelings about her situation. She has to go to school and yet has no defense against what the other girls are saying, especially since she is not actually fat. Many girls would self harm by crash dieting but when a person feels truly helpless then more physical self harm is a bigger relief. It often manifests as a deep conflict between her feelings of low self worth compared with her opinion that she is still a good person on the inside. This conflict is a further cause for her self harming (which is the effect).
The man who beats his wife
During his childhood the man had his manhood challenged repeatedly by his insecure father. The father felt as if he was being replaced and outdone by his son and so put him down at all times. The man learnt that being overtly macho was the thing to be and yet this only caused more conflict with his father. This conflict was the cause of his helpless feelings.
In later life the conflict between macho and the man’s true sense of worth causes a very violent reaction. He will self harm with alcohol, getting into fights and drug use, which often results in him lashing out at people who say they love him (as a father should), ergo he will also beat his wife when the macho conflict arises in his mind. In this case there is more than one effect due to the man’s feelings of helplessness.