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Self-Injury (which occurs when someone cuts or burns or otherwise harms themselves) is one of the harder behaviors associated with mental illness for people to fathom.

By cutting themselves, they are able to refocus their attention on the pain of the cut and for a short while, experience relief from the rape trauma.

A variation on the theme of regaining control, is the idea that people self-injure as a means of releasing tension.

An act of self-injury which might make sense if understood as a suicide attempt become all the more difficult to comprehend when the self-injurious person denies that they are trying to kill themselves and is telling the truth. What are they trying to accomplish when they harm themselves?

The following list of 6 motivations seems to cover most of the common scenarios that people who self-injure describe.

Such panic interferes with thinking, and makes it harder for people to understand the motives behind self-injury.

Further complicating the matter is the way that self-injury looks like it must be a suicide attempt even though it usually isn't.

Self-injurers sometimes use this pain sensation to override painful background chatter that fills their minds.

For example, they may have been traumatized by a rape experience such that they have PTSD symptoms and constantly be replaying that rape in their minds.

Seizing this control involves shifting the focus of their attention away from something more troubling towards something less troubling.

Cutting or burning one's self causes physical pain which is a very compelling and strong sensation.

Let's unpack these 6 reasons why people self-injure.