Healing and Hope for Kids who Cut- Marv Penner- SYMC2010

2 Mar

  • Self-injuring- Attempting to alter a mood state by inflicting physical harm to cause tissue damage to one’s body
  • At the baseline level all we can offer is our presence
  • The pain in their minds can’t be managed in a conventional way in their minds
  • Self injury is not experienced to them as self-harm, but as self-care
  • Desperately and genuinely want to stop their behavior
    • Become disappointed in themselves
    • The stories behind are of deep, deep injury
      • We can’t just rearrange the behaviors
      • We need to deal with the stories behind the behavior
      • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 young men self injure (2yrs ago study)
      • 90% begin as teens
      • Average age is 14 increasing in severity into the 20’s- starting age is going younger
      • Can be a learned or mimicked behavior
        • Dabbling can become a habit
        • Cutting clubs at schools and in online communities
        • Kids are passionate about how it works for them
        • More than ½ are victims of sexual abuse, neglected childhood, or emotionally abused
        • All races and economic backgrounds
        • DSM does not recognize this as a disorder
        • Below the radar behavior to all but their closest friends
        • Cutting is the most common form followed by burning and head banging
          • Scratching, carving, branding, hair pulling, biting, hitting, interfering with natural healing
    • What self-injury is not
      • Not a half hearted attempt at suicide
        • Strategy at staying alive
        • Changes our approach- can’t handle like a suicidal behavior
      • Because it’s a way of managing emotions, it will fail, and can lead to suicide. Temporary solution to a permanent problem, suicide is a permanent problem to a temporary solution
      • It is not body modification
      • NOT demon possession- however spiritual warfare is at the heart Eph 6
      • Not a relationally immature to merely get attention
      • Not just the “dark” kids, that is a stereotype- artists, cheerleaders, athletes etc
  • Why do they self-injure?
    • Escape, relieving anger, fear, unable to show emotions, stop thinking of their situations, depression, ease tensions, escaping numbness, grounding in reality, maintaining sense of security, euphoria, preventing suicide, expressing emotional pain, obtaining or maintain influence over others, communicating the extent of their inner turmoil, expressing or repressing sexuality, expressing or coping with feelings of alienations, validating their pain, punishing one’s self for being “bad”, continuing abusive patterns due to abuse as children, control over one’s own body, preventing something worse from happening
    • 8 common reason injurers give for not being able to stop
      • Doesn’t affect anyone but me
      • It’s my body I can do whatever I want- physiological or sexual abuse
      • Giving it up will make me hurt a whole lot more
      • It’s a way to show other my pain
      • Reminder that I can manage my pain
      • Pushes people away- I don’t want to get close to people
      • I deserve to be punished
      • If I don’t do it I will probably kill myself- alternative to suicide
      • First things first
        • Habitual or addictive self-injurers should be referred to a trained and qualified person- but stay connected. You may be out of your depth
        • Helping self-injurers find hope
          • Be the kind of person who can help: gain some knowledge, have empathy, have confidence through practice, understanding, a measure of nurturing, be optimistic,
        • Understand the cycle of addiction
          • I no longer feel like a choosing person when I am able to disconnect a behavior from the actual goal it is designed to achieve.
          • Addictive behaviors are always about managing pain NOT increasing pleasure
          • Addictive behavior promises something that it can’t deliver
        • What does it look like
          • Low self-esteem, feelings of abandonment, sense of personal defectiveness, despair, hopelessness, trapped
          • Respond relationally- affirm, listen, offer presence, acceptance, speak hope
          • Don’t ignore wounds seen by cutters, ask their story, and spend time to find out where the pain comes from.
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