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Is it normal to progress from one form of self harm to another ?

16 Answers
Last Updated: 11/23/2021 at 5:59am
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Katherine Aucoin, Transpersonal Counselling Psychology


I offer you compassion and support on your unique journey. I look forward to working with you to heal your emotional wounds and find more freedom and joy.

Top Rated Answers
January 24th, 2015 8:44am
yes, a lot of self-harms do this. you stop cutting, but you start smoking or biting yourself. stop hurting your body is hard and its okay if you need a help (:
February 20th, 2015 6:45pm
Yes. Because when you self harm your brain releases the same thing it does when you have adrenaline. When you have this your brain gets all happy. Well when you have been doing one type of self harm fro a while that happiness dies down. Suddenly, that isn't enough. So you do more, or try another type.
April 10th, 2015 7:40am
Yes, of course. In fact, it's common to self-harm in multiple ways at once. You can self-harm in so many ways, such as not eating enough, not sleeping enough, engaging in risky behaviors (heavy drugs, heavy drinking, unsafe sex). Sometimes, you'll go from a more dangerous form of self-harm to a less dangerous form in an attempt to wean yourself off, and sometimes it goes the opposite way.
January 27th, 2015 7:56pm
Self harm is a bad thing it can get the better of you is isn't completely normal to self harm in the first place it's not okay to progress because you are still hurting youself
- Expert in Self-Harm
March 7th, 2015 2:07am
It's not uncommon for self harm to change it's form. This may happen because a form of harm becomes unavailable to you before you have the tools or desire to stop harming, a form of harm may cease to be effective in changing your emotional state, or you may want to stop the behavior and yet not have the skills yet to use healthy coping methods instead so you stop this type of harm but begin a new type. For recovery, the most important things are: desire to stop, reasons to stop, and learning (and practicing!) MANY different coping skills. CBT and DBT are great resources for skills to help you regulate your emotions, better understand your thoughts, and to heal from this. Hang in there.
March 11th, 2015 11:59pm
yes it is common, as it is with any form of pain or substance abuse. you look for a stronger method or substance to increase the feel, the high, the release.
May 6th, 2015 3:29am
Normal? I don't know. Does it have a purpose? Yes. Generally things down-spiral and get worse, so i'd think you meant into a worse or more destructive self-harm. but either way, it serves a purpose and that's why your doing it. Its meeting goals of relief, comfort and or self-punishment.
June 17th, 2015 2:23am
In my experience, yes. A lot of times, one form of self harm will no longer be sufficient enough to distract from the emotional struggle going on. Most people will usually use more than one form of self harm. Cutting and burning tend to be used together often, however it varies from person to person. When you do feel the need to use a more destructive form or any form of self harm, it is INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT to find help!
June 23rd, 2015 4:18am
Yes it is normal. Self harm is an addiction. Sometimes when people stop self harming a certain way or a certain way isnt working for them anymore, they go to a different form of self harm.
July 7th, 2015 4:46pm
**Trigger Warning!!!!*** Yes, it is normal to progress from one form of self harm to another. I have progressed from scratching to cutting. I used to do "lesser" forms of self harm (including: pinching, scratching, biting) before I progressed to full-out cutting.
August 4th, 2015 10:53am
Yes, for someone to self harm is a way to cope, to release. When you stop using objectors of self harm to cope it can feel overwhelming when you don't and it's not uncommon to switch to another maladaptive behaviour as it was something you felt safe doing. Look at distress tolerance. Make a whole list of things that you can do to cope and exhaust all options. This could include having a long bath or shower, talking to someone you trust, going for a walk, putting ice in the area where you have the urge to hurt, exercise, reading, playing with pets, watching a funny movie or TV series, talk to a mental health professional, mindful breathing, yelling and screaming, learning to do something new etc
March 21st, 2016 10:50am
This happened to me actually. And yes, I would say it's totally normal. When I was struggling with self harm, I often changed forms of self harm. I had my reasons but some of them were: 1) I didn't want others to realize what I was doing to myself so I changed forms of self harm to cover up that I'm hurting myself. 2) At one point I felt like what I was doing wasn't enough so I started something else that might have a better impact on me. But there were a lot of other reasons. I would say just this: please, if you're self harming, talk to someone. You can find a helpful ear here on 7Cups but it would be better for you to talk to someone face to face. Just find someone you can trust to. It would help you a lot.
April 18th, 2017 12:59am
'Normal' is different for everyone. What everyone thinks as normal for self-harm is cutting, although self-harm includes anything where you are intentionally inflicting pain upon yourself. I would say that it is common.
August 1st, 2017 2:35pm
Self-harm can often function like an addiction. Sometimes in an attempt to stop one form of self-harm, a person may end up replacing the harmful behavior with a different one. What's most important is getting help and support for the underlying emotional struggle that motivates the self-harm, which should help to manage the harmful urges no matter what form they take on.
August 24th, 2020 7:34am
Personally, in my experience with dangerous situations and thoughts, as well as my knowledge on what some of my closest friends and family has been through, self harm is done as a form of self punishment or to relieve pent up aggression, anger, resentment or more. Sometimes, it is a way to express oneself, when they feel trapped and unable to communicate what they're going through or have been through. So I don't think it's unusual to go from one form to another, as they all mean the same thing when you are in this form of a headspace.
November 23rd, 2021 5:59am
Yes, it’s actually very common in people with self harming addictions. This can happen for many reasons, some people find that they try to recover from self harm and just replace it with a different self harming addiction. Some people just find a method they use consistently to be less effective over time and need something different, some people are, for lack of a better word, just exploring what they can do. These are all normal things to experience when going through a self harming addiction, and often you’ll see people using many different methods at once. I hope this helped!