Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Self Harm and its Associated Stigma

The last blog post was about suicide and its associated stigma, and how damaging this stigma can be. Although this post will be in a similar vein, I will try to keep it fresh and avoid repetition.

In the same way that suicide is not about seeking attention. Self-harm is also not an attention-seeking act.

In most cases, self-harm is about externalising internal pain, i.e. making internal pain, external.

There may be specific aspects to the act of harming oneself which make the internal, external, such as; the distraction of physical pain, the feeling of power and control over body (and, consequently, mind), or, a way of punishing oneself, and often with associations to the pain which are unique to that person. There are many reasons why someone might harm themselves, but, most of the time at the core of the reasoning, self-harm is about making emotional and/or mental pain, physical on the outer body.

Self-harm is not a shameful or hurtful act, if anything, it is an act of expression. And, despite the visibility of scars and wounds, it is mostly a private and personal expression of pain.

The prejudiced and ignorant culture of calling people "emo", along with various other terms used in derogatory ways in conjunction with those who self-harm, is frankly ridiculous. For starters, self-harming is not a new thing. And, neither is associating self-harm with a group of "misfits" or "outcasts" of society; before rock music, poets were the associated group - this stigma is old-hat.

The stigma is stale and boring, and so is the ignorance and prejudice that comes with it.

For the sake of not re-walking the same ground covered in my previous Free Your Mind blog post, I will keep this short and sweet. So; to summarise, self-harming is not an attention seeking act, or a shameful act; and for people to associate stigma with self-harm is nothing but prejudice and ignorance.

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