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ReWrite Chapter 3

Here’s author, Ben Sledge, reading and discussing Chapter 3 of ReWrite with Dan, Casey, and our Twitch community:

Here’s author, Ben Sledge, explaining why people self-harm from Chapter 3 of ReWrite:

Questions to Answer

What did you learn about your own motivation behind self-harm?
What other takeaways did you have from this chapter?

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@Micro and my takeaways from chapter 3 and the videos attached to it:

  • Having no answer to the question “why” is very relatable. It’s hard to know the answers and respond to this question - even though it’s natural to wonder that.
  • The comparison with buying (the urge, the happiness/temporary relief) depicts very accurately the similarities with self-harm.
  • We discussed a little about the fact that, during recovery, we’re likely to trade an addiction or an unhealthy coping mechanism for another one, which is something we need to be careful with.

Reason 1: To feel better

  • This is relatable to one of us. In the sense of feeling like it’s not possible to talk about it, that there is an intense pressure to live up to our own expectations - and feeling like it’s not the case. A way to express intense emotions that are internalized and censored (because of a fear of bothering others). “Literally covering up what you are going through mentally”.
  • Another thing relatable in the description: the fact that it slowly builds up and then suddenly bursts and we have no control over the tendency in that moment. We agreed on the fact that, at least, it feels like we have no control.

Reason 2: A method of control

  • We both shared at least one experience related to this reason. We discussed them. The idea behind was to regain some control over a situation that was either painful or frustrating. And instead of turning the harm against others and thus confronting the situation, we internalized it and put our frustration against ourselves.

Reason 3: To feel something other than numbness

  • This reason was relatable to both of us. Numbness was experienced as similar to a feeling of emptiness. Self-harm appeared to be a way to actually feel something, anything else than nothingness. It was a way to regain a sense of being alive.

Reason 4 : To self-punish

  • This reason is highly relatable to one of us. It has been said/observed by friends as well.
  • The feeling of not living up to expectations people have of them, the feeling of not being good enough and not feeling like they can talk about it with others because of the fear of being judged by the other for not being good enough. Or even when others say it’s good enough not believing it because it wasn’t good enough to your own standards. Always being unhappy with the stuff you do and the stuff you create and feeling like you need to punish yourself when you don’t do something well enough because “you should be able to do that… easily”. People have told you that… you should’ve been better, because it’s easy and you don’t understand why it’s not working. You need to get rid of that frustration somehow and since you’re the cause of it, why not take it out on yourself? Even if someone else has completely unfair standards of how you should perform, you are the reason it’s not working… You are not living up to standard and thus you’re the cause and should punish yourself for that.
    Not saying it’s a healthy way of coping…

Reason 5: To distract attention from trauma

  • This reason is relatable to one of us. It has been experienced as something with a desire to distract from emotions and, especially, numbness. But also, to distract from painful memories that were difficult to control at the moment. It’s, somehow, a way to regain some control over life itself when we feel overwhelmed by our past and crippling memories.

“What about the psychology and science behind self-harm?”

  • This brought us back to a discussion that we had some time ago about the power of habits/self-harm and the fact that, in the long run, self-harming can become a strong habit that is difficult to recover from. We can easily lose sight of the reasons behind the first time we self harmed, and it becomes an automatism to cope with more and more situations/reasons.

  • It also raises the question of knowing when self-harm actually stops. Which criterias help to establish that statement.

  • One of us mentioned self-deprecation as a kind of negative reinforcement that needs to be overcome, with time.

  • We discussed several times during this chapter that reasons for self-harm are often mixed together but seeing them as being separate helps to understand more deeply. The motivations behind self-harm are generally complex and can evolve with time, with different life circumstances as well.

The Videos

  • It’s interesting to see in the presentation video the testimony of Victoria, someone who personally struggled with self-harm and is brave enough to share about their own experience.

  • In the stream video, they mention some similarities and differences between self-harm and having tattoos/piercings, and the idea that those can turn into a way to harm themselves. We discussed the idea that one could be more harmful than another one. We agreed that a major difference between scarification, tattoos and piercings is the intention behind. As it is said on the video: punishment VS self-expression.

  • Nyn’ shared about how at school people have different ways to deal with stress, different coping mechanisms, such as: alcohol, smoking, beta blockers, etc. only to calm down from the stress induced by school and the classical music industry itself. We discussed experiences at school and how a lot of pressure is under the shoulders of the students there and how it can feel like there is no support network.

  • Once again we discussed how we thought that usually one reason gets people into self harm, but it’s other reasons that can keep us there, because it’s multifunctional. Something Casey already stated in the stream video listed above. The positive and negative reinforcement thing that came up during the “psychology and science behind self-harm” was very informational and also shed some light on why it’s so addictive.

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