Saturday, January 9, 2010

"Self-injury", masochism and incomprehensible dichotomies

I've read 2 posts on the subject of "self-injury" (a term which, like the somewhat broader "self-harm", i really don't like, but which there are frustratingly few or no better equivalents) recently that have frustrated me enough to feel a need to write a response to them: this one at FWD/Forward and this one (or more accurately its comment thread) at let them eat pro-sm feminist safe spaces. This is probably going to be a bit of an incoherent rant due to its very high percentage of "WTF, i just DON'T GET IT", so apologies in advance for probably-even-worse-than-usual sentence structure and overall post structure (the latter probably also due to paragraphs being written out of order and then moved around)...

I'm writing this response here rather than as a comment on either of those blogs because, in the first case, i'm 99% certain that there is no chance whatsoever that anything i write as a response would get past their comment policy (and that may be the subject of another post), and, in the second case, a) while i agree with every word of distractedhousewife's comments (so much so, in fact, that she might as well be speaking for me throughout that thread, in terms of both opinion and experience - i am so glad that there is someone else who hated Secretary for the same reason as me), it didn't feel like there was much i could add to them, and b) it would be reviving a comment thread over a month old, which usually results in being completely ignored when i do it.

The attitudes towards self-whatever expressed in that FWD/Forward post seem incredibly similar to the attitudes of prescriptive feminists (thanks to genderbitch for that phrase/concept, which i think is much more accurate than "radfem" and the like, and which i'm going to use for that phenomenon from now on) towards BDSM and other to-them-"unacceptable" forms of sex in their superficial division between activities based on types of sensation: "nice", "pleasant" distraction activities like having a hot bath, cuddling an animal (or maybe more accurately "mammal": would it be seen the same way if it was a pet spider or snake or something?) are "healthy and productive ways" of "car[ing] for [one]self", but things that are "nasty" or "painful" like cutting, burning, [etc] one's skin are, somehow (how/why isn't made clear) inherently pathological and/or undesirable, just as "nice", "vanilla" forms of sexual activity are seen as "healthy" and "normal" (by at least those prescriptive feminists who aren't opposed to partnered sex as a whole concept, anyway), but "nasty", "painful" or "degrading" ones are seen as pathological or a result of patriarchal brainwashing. And the thing that strikes me is how powerfully and even (to my reading) positively abby_jean speaks about hir own experiences of cutting [etc], yet, inexplicably for me, jumps straight to talking about it as something so self-evidently bad that why it needed to be "got rid of" (by techniques that pretty much all sound at-least-potentially coercive to me) doesn't even need to be said. I'm left wondering why ze needs to write about it in such a "confessional" tone (similar to that used by ex-addicts or religious penitents) about something that, as far as can be read from hir post, used to work for her.

(There's also the whole elision between "self-harm" and suicide in the comment thread of that post, which also frustrates me to no end, since for me at least, there is absolutely no relationship between those 2 things. This frustrates me even more because just about the only pro-cutting [etc] bloggers i've ever come across have also been very outspokenly pro-euthanasia and pro-assisted-suicide, and their pro-cutting writing seemed to be intended as part of a pro-suicide agenda... hence, no links to drop here...)

There also seems to be this assumption in the FWD post/thread that - even though it is at least recognised as a coping mechanism rather than this totally reasonless and destructive thing - inflicting pain on oneself is never ever ever the right coping mechanism, and that in the long run it always needs to be replaced with other, "better" coping mechanisms - which just leaves me wondering, where does that leave people who have tried other coping mechanisms, and found that cutting or pinching or burning or bruising or [whatever] themselves is the one that works best for them? For me, there were times before i discovered the constructive use of physical pain to either distract from or alleviate something else unbearable (whether an emotional situation or a sensory-overloading thing that i had no control over), when if i had known about it, it would have made those situations massively easier for me, and i actually wish that there had been someone to tell me about such techniques - but, instead, i was led by the mainstream culture to believe that "self-harm" was something that only "insane" people did (and therefore totally irrational and inexplicable, with no possibility of actual usefulness), and/or some form of hopelessly disordered, half-baked, pathetic failure at a suicide attempt. But, although it's not directly addressed, the impression i certainly get from the use of "trigger warnings" and such is that encouraging others to do such things would be considered so thoroughly unacceptable i'm not sure if i have the language to describe how it would be seen.

(Aside: am i the only person who feels very unpleasantly patronised by "trigger warnings"?)

The thing that really bothers me about the comment thread on the sm-feminist post is the level of (defensive? disgusted?) anger aimed at distractedhousewife by... almost every other commenter. There seems to be a real desperation to maintain "self-injury" and BDSM/sexual activity more generally as absolutely unrelated categories, with nothing in common at all, and any suggestion that there is anything in common between them is somehow an absolutely-beyond-the-pale thing to say. Now, i'm aware that some of this is due to the context of the original post - prescriptive feminists attempting to pathologise BDSM by associating it with "self-injury" - but much of it seems more personal than that, especially Dw3t-Hthr's and Bean's responses. A lot of people seem to have a very, very heavy emotional investment in keeping these things absolutely separate.

As far as my own experience goes, the stuff i have done to myself certainly isn't anywhere near as "severe" as what a lot of people i know have done: i've cut myself with sharp blades a few times (only once deeply enough to leave a permanent scar; and note that i seem to scar more easily than a lot of people anyway, perhaps due to certain connective-tissue "oddities" - i still have a noticeable scar from a graze caused by falling down steps onto asphalt 3 1/2 years ago, for example), slashed/scratched myself with semi-sharp objects (eg keys) quite a few times, punched myself, banged my head against things once or twice, and got ridiculously drunk specifically so that i would have a really painful hangover the next day once (that one wasn't very successful...). But then, i have several habits that blur the lines between what would definitely be considered "self-injury" and what could just be considered tics, stims or slightly OCD-ish things: compulsively squeezing out the pores on my face and arms (sometimes damaging my skin in the process), or cutting my nails so far back i sometimes damage the "quick" underneath, or scrubbing myself really hard with a pan scourer in the shower (which often leaves scratch marks that last a few days), for example - all of which are things i often consciously do for the sensory and/or hormonal effects of the pain when i am feeling stressed or frustrated, but also sometimes just because i like the feel of them - and i don't see any fundamental difference.

Also, to deal with another apparently-absolute dichotomy, there are several things i have done to myself about which i was, and still am, genuinely not sure if they were "sexual" or not. Is, for example, starting to have sexual fantasies while cutting or scratching oneself - perhaps because the endorphins allow one to feel "good enough" to get aroused, rather than because of any initial sexual intent - in the "solo BDSM" category or the "coping with depression" category? And - possibly to be more honest than i really want to be, but after reading that comment thread i feel the need to say - masturbation itself is, at least as often as not, something that i do not for a pleasurable sensation, but as a nowhere-near-complete-but-still-better-than-anything-else-i-can-think-of attempt to alleviate the overwhelming "badness" [not wanting to use the word "pain" here due to its extreme ambiguity in this context!] of involuntary celibacy and an unwanted, but horribly distracting and frustrating, sex drive.

I feel like there might be a link with what amandaw says in the comments to this other FWD/Forward post about "abuse" of prescription drugs: I still really struggle with some amount of bitterness against the very existence of recreational use of some of these drugs.: it seems like a lot of people have a lot invested in some very rigid and absolute dichotomy between needing to do or have something (or being "compelled" to do it, which frankly i find even less comprehensible, because for me "compulsion" is something that comes from outside a person, whereas what "compulsion" seems to mean to people when they talk about things like drug addiction, "self-harm", behaviours categorised as "OCD", etc is something more like "a felt need that is somehow pathological", and located entirely inside the person) and merely wanting it. For me, that absolute split just isn't there; it's not that i don't recognise any difference (of course a need for something that someone will literally die without and a desire for something that will have little or no material difference to one's life are extremely different), but that for me it's not so much a dichotomy as opposite ends of a continuous spectrum - i simply can't see any set point at which "merely" wanting something somehow crosses over into actually needing that thing, and then becomes something entirely different to be responded to in entirely different ways, and kept conceptually separate as fiercely and defensively as possible. Just where is this dividing line?

(Edit: i've just realised that the previous paragraph is pretty relevant to a lot of other stuff as well, notably the "gatekeeping" debate with regard to SRS/gender transition, and some of the nasty identity stuff around "appropriation" (a concept i'm going to have to do a post on the problematic uses of...) that seems to happen there. Some stuff about use of assistive technologies by people with different impairments too... and probably other things...)

Maybe there is some "neurotypical" way of "self-injuring" which is completely and utterly different from anything i have experienced, and that i (and, seemingly, others like me) really don't understand. Maybe some people do feel "compulsions" as something fundamentally, qualitatively rather than just quantitatively, different from simply wanting something really intensely and overwhelmingly; if that's the case, then i have absolutely no idea what that would feel like. But, if this is the case, then i haven't read any comprehensible description of it, and nor have i ever encountered someone willing to explain exactly what this distinction is, or why they are fundamentally separate, non-contiguous categories.

Maybe, in fact, this is a bit like the gender identity thing - something that seems self-evident to the majority of people, but that i can't grasp simply because it isn't there in me? I don't know; i'd genuinely like to know what it is that i'm not (and, from the thread at sm-feminist, at least one other autistic person, who's a much better and clearer writer than i am, also isn't) getting here, but i'm kind of afraid to ask because of how "unthinkable" even the question seems to be for so many people. Is the way that "self-injury" seems to have some sort of taboo status as something that must never, ever be encouraged, "normalised" or treated as a positive coping technique for anything... something purely cultural, which (like so many other generally-unquestioned norms of "mainstream" Western culture) my lack of "proper" acculturation allows me to "see through"? (although phrasing it like that feels a little uncomfortably like asserting some sort of autistic superiority over the "dumb sheeple"...), or is it actually something inherent to the non-autistic psyche (which would, presumably, make autistic and non-autistic people's "self-injury" into fundamentally different phenomena - something i'm not exactly comfortable with either, as it seems very like essentialising a difference between autistic and non-autistic people to an extent that makes attempts at mutual understanding almost futile)?

I'm not being controversial for the sake of it here, but writing out of honest frustration that i am somewhat worried might be interpreted as such. I have a feeling this might go even deeper, and into theory-of-mind-related gaps in my understanding of the "self", which i've attempted to write about before but never got anything even remotely coherent enough to make into a blog post, and which i'm certainly too tired now to even start trying to explain tonight, so i'll stop here. Apologies for the ridiculously high number of asides and contorted parenthetical sentences. Any coherent and non-flamey responses, however, much appreciated.


Option C said...

I wrote a reply to this post, but it was prodigiously long, too long for reasonable use of the comment space.

So I made it a blog post: http://takingathirdoption.blogspot.com/2010/01/re-self-injury-masochism-and.html

(the blog is new and yes, you prompted me to do it!)

shiva said...

Hi Option C

I hope you don't mind me keeping my response to you here, to prevent this potentially splintering off in too many directions.

(For the record, i *like* long comments - it would be hypocritical of me not to, considering i've been known to leave comments on other people's blog posts that were longer than the posts themselves! But i know that Blogger isn't well set up for very long comments (i've fallen foul of the maximum comment length while replying to comments on my own blog),so i sympathise. I'm still looking at possible template changes to make leaving long comments easier.)

(Also, i'm incredibly pleased that i inspired you to start a blog! Never thought i'd do that...)

#1. It's not 100% clear, but are you saying that i am "criticizing the OP's recovery and coping methods" [presumably with regard to the FWD post]? If so, that wasn't my intent on an individual level, and i think you're very likely right that abby_jean's post wasn't intended as prescriptively as i read it as - it's just hard for me *not* to see prescriptivism in that sort of thing, and maybe "potentially coercive" was a bit unjustified... but i get a very strong squicky feeling from reading phrases like "safety contracts" that does make me think of coercion, or at least very "unfree" relationships, and a kind of... deliberate division against oneself that i can't get my head round without thinking of it as some sort of "self-coercion" or "self-oppression" (even though part of me feels those phrases are oxymorons... this perhaps is key to the "concept of the "self" that i don't get" thing.) Certainly i think whatever any individual does to hirself is hir business and hir unalienable right - but that applies *both* to cutting etc *and* to trying to stop oneself from cutting etc. I guess all the descriptions i read of trying to stop oneself from cutting etc seem to me like some quite-disturbing-to-me forms of self-shaming or self-denying - which are actually more like "self-harm", as far as i can get my head round that phrase, than cutting etc - if you see what i mean?

#2. I agree that that example of distractedhousewife's behaviour is probably coercive and/or manipulative, even if not necessarily intended that way (tho i do think that something coming from a place of deep desperation is quite significantly different from the superficially same thing coming from a place of entitlement, even if the effect on the other person is the same). But i don;t think she was talking about it as "this is right" so much simply as "this is something i have done/experienced", ie not endorsing or advocating it.

#3. I found a post on someone else's blog deconstructing the whole "trigger warning" thing, and then didn't bookmark it and lost it again, and right now don't have the expressive language spoons to summarise it (i've just written most of another quite long and involved post on drugs and anti-psychiatry, which i'm going to finish tomorrow).

Also in general i should note this post is a bit rantier and more hyperbolic/less "fair" than i usually try to be, as it came out of such a strong frustration/incomprehension. But thanks for your response to it :)

Option C said...

Hey; just saw your post in moderation (I probably SHOULDN'T have moderation on already, with no visitors, but the state of the comment section on some other blogs I follow makes me paranoid...) and came to reply. I also just did some more stuff with the blog.

I see that this is a pretty long-post-friendly place, but I get a bit apprehensive about taking up too much space! Totally not scared to get lengthy, though.

#1; I didn't mean that you were intentionally trying to do that (criticize hir personal coping/recovery methods), it didn't seem like that to me, but the way you spoke about it seemed to make that point. That is, by assuming that those things are not more productive or healthy for hir, and that cutting was actually working for hir - some posters did make statements to this effect, but ze did (as far as I could see) not. (incidentally, I don't think the fact that ze speaks "positively" implies that the behavior was not maladaptive - although I agree that dependence is not inherently negative, it is just as incorrect to say it is inherently positive.)

I do see your point in the general sense, and I can see how self-shame might be encouraged by the methods being used to "cure" self harm (not familiar enough, though).

#2 I see the distinction between dh's example and coercive behavior which comes out of a sense of entitlement - but! It still has the same potential to damage. And, pertinently, coercive/damaging behavior IS discouraged in the BDSM community, so conflating self harm and BDSM on the basis of such an experience is intellectually dishonest, I think.

Option C said...

#3 I have complicated and not well-set thoughts on trigger warnings, but I have seen people (who might have had a poorer response to a post, otherwise) respond positively to them, so I am on the "they are a good thing" side of the fence, personally, with some caveats. They are overused and they are used in patronising ways (true of some of the comments in that thread, I think). But I do think some material does warrant it.

PS I found your post interesting, not unfair-your thoughts just happened to coincide with some subjects I was mulling over as well (and haven't come to any major conclusions on, hence not on firm ground with my disagreements).

urocyon said...

Hope to get back to a proper reply here, but you're not nearly the only one who has problems with the "trigger warning" thing. That reminded me of a post about this you might find interesting, <a href="http://writhesafely.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/a-word-with-you/>A word with you</a>.

I don't just find it patronizing, but ultimately counterproductive. To quote that post, 'Everyone I know who has sincerely worked on healing from trauma would laugh at the very fucking idea of a “safe space”, because number one we are beyond safe spaces, and second, trying to create a womblike social milieu promotes the continuing psychosis we’re trying to get over.'

Not far from my take on it. Still, I'll sometimes throw in warnings out of a general urge to be considerate to people who just aren't up to dealing with things yet.

genderbitch said...

This is more rambling than normal because my thoughts aren't fully formed on it. Apologies if it doesn't make sense.

I'm torn.

On one hand, having fought against my own self harm tendencies for so long makes it difficult to see them positively.

On the other hand, you're absolutely right, it is prescriptive and it is intensely hypocritical of me to regard my own problems with a given coping method as applicable to anyone else.

For me, the largest difficulty arises from the line we draw. Should we stand back when loved ones do serious injury to their flesh? Where the cutting with knives severs tendons and cuts important veins (only really seen in extreme cases). Should we (can we?) stand back when loved ones attempt to kill themselves?

I'm aware that it's hypocritical to try to keep someone from needing a hospital trip or a morgue trip when they want the high degree pain (which causes the serious injury) or they want death, but is anyone capable of standing by and watching a loved one do that? (my own self harm comes from specific dissonance triggers, so it actually doesn't progress past clawing)

That's where my struggle is. Of course, just because we stand back for coping methods doesn't mean everything will go as the above. There's really no indication that this sort of thing is progressive in everyone (I have noticed it to be progressive in my partner). I guess I wanna know, is there a line? Should there be a line? Where should that line be if it should even exist at all?

That's all.

Also, on trigger warnings: I've always seen them as plainly giving a person the knowledge that something may be intensely unpleasant to read so they can make an informed choice before reading it. Part disclaimer (so people don't complain) and part hey, here's a warn so you can be careful if you need to.

Of course, I also think that trigger warnings have to mention what they're warning about. Like say, "possible triggers for descriptions of rape" or etc etc. If it's just "omg trigger warning" that's completely useless.

shiva said...

Option C - re 1: it's very possible i was conflating the content of the original post of that thread with subsequent posts in it, which is probably an artefact of how i read things. Don't disagree with you, though.

re 2: i agree fully that the consequences are the same - but this comes back to the ethics of intentions versus consequences, which is a *huge* grey fuzzy area for me (i tend to oscillate between full-on intentionalist and full-on consequentialist positions worryingly rapidly, sometimes even managing through some sort of "doublethink" to hold both at once), so... yeah. The point i think i was making, though, is that distractedhousewife was saying that the same full spectrum of emotion and of percieved freedom of action occurs with relation to *both* acts committed purely on oneself *and* acts within partnered relationships - so that whether a partner is involved or not is not a watertight "absolute" distinction.

Urocyon - thanks, i think that might have been the anti-trigger-warning post i was looking for. :) I'm not 100% sure i agree with hir interpretation of the intent behind the use of trigger warnings - but again, the whole intent vs consequences thing. (I also find flawedplan's writing style quite difficult to decipher hir actual "side" of some arguments from. Used to read hir blog regularly a year or 2 ago, but stopped because i had a big disagreement with hir which, ironically, i now can't remember what was about...) I'd be... shall we say interested in hir view of FWD's comment policy (i note they don't link hir on their blogroll)...

Also, my next post (which should be done tonight) will be about psychotropic drugs and anti-psychiatry, and might well interest you.

shiva said...

genderbitch - sorry, we posted simultaneously there earlier i think, i didn't intend to ignore your comment.

The whole standing by and watching loved ones do things you think are damaging them thing is a very difficult one for me too. Ultimately i think we have the absolute right to try to persuade, by non-coercive means, people we love not to do things which we think are harmful to them, but we absolutely don't have the right to forcibly stop them (and, of course, the line between persuasion and coercion can be very slippery and hard to define). I've often thought of what i would do if someone i loved was really determined to die, and have never come to a solid conclusion on it - although anti-paternalism is quite literally the strongest principle i have, strong enough to override even very, very strong emotional attachments, so *maybe* i would be able to stand by. (That hasn't been tested, though, and i hope it never is, although of course given the movements i move in, i'm aware that eventually it is likely to be.)

I'm totally in favour of information on how to "safely" (here meaning "without unintended consequences) cut/burn/scar/whatever oneself being available, and though i think there are some paternalistic overtones to the "harm reduction" approach, i support it over the more absolutist and openly-paternalist alternatives. Of course i don't think anyone should do things that have permanent effects on their body unless they know about and are sure that they want those permanent effects.

As an example, one of my closest friends used to be a very heavy drinker, and decided last year to give up completely, using "addiction-recovery" techniques, some of which i regarded as rather (self-?)coercive. I made it very clear to hir that i might not be able to give hir some of the types of support that ze might have wanted, because the way i practice friendship means that my acceptance of hir is unconditional (at least with regard to anything ze does to hirself) - i wouldn't love hir any less if ze was drinking than if ze wasn't. Not that i think those types of "support" are always and inherently coercive, but i don't dare go there because of the fairly strong *possibility* of them being coercive (if you see what i mean, not too sure if i explained that very well).

Trigger warnings being used as a form of disclaimer makes sense as a much less paternalistic way of looking at it, much like a "warning" about linking to media that isn't accessible to everyone, or that might cause slow computers to crash. (I warn of links to YouTube videos (and don't embed them) for that reason, and if/when i finally finish my review of Avatar, i intend to put a "TV Tropes warning/disclaimer" on it, because of the way that website scarily sucks up whole days of time every time i go onto it, if i'm not *very* careful not to click *any* links within it...) And totally agreed that they have to mention what they're about.

Option C said...

Re:Re:2 This is sort of a weak argument, but... I think there are many and varied ways to use a partner for self harming behavior. Probably only very few of them actually overlap with BDSM, though. Whether the association -with BDSM- is accurate and to what degree depends, I think, on how the BDSM community itself handles this sort of thing. As per the sm feminists thread and the general climate of the kink/BDSM community, I can't imagine they would be receptive to what dh is doing, but at the same time I think there is constructive discussion to be had there around this subject.

urocyon said...

I'm not 100% sure i agree with hir interpretation of the intent behind the use of trigger warnings - but again, the whole intent vs consequences thing.

Same here--just throwing it in the mix. :) Can't say I agree with a lot of it, but found it interesting. I haven't actually read much over there, but that one caught my attention.

You brought up some good points here, and got me thinking more about prescriptiveness in general. I've run into similar unease over this kind of thing, in a variety of contexts.

Ideology trumps pragmatism far too often. I agree that it's important to look at what is actually working for people--and this may disagree with preconceptions about what they "should" be doing.

In my own experience, self-harming behavior was less problematic than some of the other things I might have done to cope with emotional pain. And, yes, I ran into all kinds of interpretations/explanations which had nothing to do with my own perceptions of reality there. Presumed suicidal motivations and insistence that this was inherently one of the most harmful options available--with blanket insistence that it must stop--were, indeed, a couple.

I haven't cut myself deliberately in better than ten years now. An awful lot of this does seem to have been because of other people's reactions and my starting to believe that it must be an inherently bad thing (and sign of True Craziness).

A lot of things seem to strike people as inherently bad, so that they stop with that idea. That does not mean that the same things are bad in every situation, for everyone. This is definitely one of the things that gets treated that way, overwhelmingly.

You offer some interesting observations on the huge distinction frequently drawn between BDSM and self-harm. In a lot of cases, this does seem to come from trying hard to separate one's own motivations and actions from those of people perceived as "crazy". It strikes me as buying into harmful Divide and Conquer.

But then, i have several habits that blur the lines between what would definitely be considered "self-injury" and what could just be considered tics, stims or slightly OCD-ish things

Same here. Though this has been treated as necessarily coming from the same kinds of motivations as quite deliberate cutting, they are very different for me. I don't know how much of this is coming from getting the "this is always bad and maladaptive" thing pounded in over the cutting in particular, but this category of "self-harming behaviors" strikes me as even more of an example of other people letting ideology get in the way of even wanting to try to understand what purpose this may be serving for another person. For me, this is very clearly a stress coping mechanism that works, and has been pathologized.

Don't know that I've actually added anything new here, but I had to comment anyway. :)

Ettina said...

I kind of got overloaded and skimmed through your post (it's just before lunch, and I think I forgot to eat breakfast) but from what I gathered, it sounds a bit like my own experience.
I self-injure when I'm in the kind of emotional distress where I feel the need to do *something* drastic, and self-injury seems to be a better choice than a) hurting someone else, b) trying to kill myself or c) running away (the last because then I end up alone and I can't handle being alone in that kind of state, and going back requires 'giving in').
I don't think my self-injury is healthy, or something I should be doing. Ideally, I'd like to stop self-injuring. But I've realized that until I can find better ways of dealing with those feelings, self-injury is often my best option. (Well, that and very indirectly trying to explain what I need while disguising it as insults, which is pretty much the only way to communicate what I need in that state.)

Deliberate Self Harm Scarring said...

Nice knowledgeable post related to self harm.If a person is addicted to the obsessive and compulsive behaviors related to self-harming, any person is generally secretive about their behavior. Fear of being stopped or confronted results in hiding of their actions.

Ettina said...

"Maybe some people do feel "compulsions" as something fundamentally, qualitatively rather than just quantitatively, different from simply wanting something really intensely and overwhelmingly; if that's the case, then i have absolutely no idea what that would feel like."

I'm not sure if this is what is meant by compulsions, but I have a feeling sometimes that there is something that some part of me is adamantly demanding I do, even though I really don't want to do it. Like, for example, when I run away during a meltdown, after I've run away, I'll be sitting or standing somewhere, desperately wanting to go back home, but something in me keeps saying 'Do not go back home! That's giving in!'

Amanda Forest Vivian said...

this is a BOSS post.

I don't self-injure, it's an important part of my identity that I don't. however, I know that this is totally just sort of a principle I follow because it seems to be a sensible/orderly way of thinking for me. when I self-injured it was often a)an attempt to prove to myself that I wasn't worthless, because even though I couldn't do things that other people could do, I could handle sensations that I found unpleasant, and b)a way of getting closeness with people because I didn't know how to get closeness in another way. obviously these things are both bad and that's part of why I don't SI. but there are hypothetical other reasons to SI that wouldn't be bad, like what if I was SI-ing to jerk off? that wouldn't be a bad thing at all, but I would never do it, just on principle. my current policy is that if I SI (which I've done twice in the five years since I decided to stop) I know that things are really really fucked up with me and I need to take drastic action to make things better.

but I would totally let another person hurt me, just because it's technically different. but I know that the difference is just technical--that this is just my schema for feeling in control of my life and feeling okay. this is a very TMI response and I apologize--although it's on an old enough post that you probably won't see it, so it doesn't matter. but anyway, I just don't think SI is innately bad and I seriously can't believe how mean and obtuse those people are being to distractedhousewife. What she's saying makes perfect sense.

Amanda Forest Vivian said...

oh, another thing--I remember being on the Asperger's livejournal community and this girl posted describing how when she has meltdowns she bangs her head and she's really concerned about brain damage, and she asked for advice on what to do when she's having meltdowns. I suggested that she should try to cut herself instead because it's safer, and requires more forethought and physical coordination, etc., so it could be more calming.

then this other person acted like that was a really bad irresponsible suggestion for me to make, and was like, "if she cuts herself she could get an infection!!!"

like...really? I mean, life isn't a situation where you can choose the best case scenario all the time.