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Why is self-harm a feeling of relief?

16 Answers
Last Updated: 10/12/2020 at 2:52pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Tracy-Kate Teleke, M.A., LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

I assist adults and couples in CA experiencing relationship challenges and interpersonal struggles including anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other life challenges.

Top Rated Answers
July 20th, 2015 12:56pm
For me, it's a feeling of relief because I change my pain to physical from mental. Physical is easier to deal with, so it gives me a sense of relief when I stop focusing on mental pain and start thinking about the physical.
March 15th, 2016 8:40pm
because firstly it doesnt hurt as many other things are hurting us a lot from within.. and as we see the blood or the pain starts increasing we start feeling strong enough to handle anything ..
June 17th, 2015 11:11am
A few months back, my husband opened up to my that he self harmed. He would take a knife, and play the knife game whenever he was feeling strong negative emotions. He would often blame himself whenever something bad would happen to him, so when he played the knife game. Every time he messed up, the blade would slice his hand. "Whoops, my fault. It's my fault I'm in pain. I shouldn't have messed up." It brought all of his problems down to a smaller level, and it came down to one little game. Taking the tension off of real life. He was basically giving himself proof that he can blame himself. Although, that wouldn't be a relieving feeling for most, it took a lot off his shoulders. I notice this a lot in self harm. It's rarely about suicide and more for projection and attention. Instead of lashing out and hurting others, you hurt yourself. "Can't hurt anyone if you're only hurting yourself" kind of mindset.
February 1st, 2016 4:19am
Instead of dealing with the pain on the inside, you use self harm to deal with it on the outside. It releases everything negative that you are feeling, but I don't recommend it... It's ruined my life.
April 3rd, 2015 6:08pm
Because I think "at least its better than smoking" and i do honestly believe the thought that i think.
April 26th, 2015 10:28am
Because its a distraction. The physical pain, is a distraction from the emotional pain that you feel. People self harm instead of focusing on their emotional pain because in their mind its easier.
March 22nd, 2016 10:49pm
Many people self harm to gain control they don't have in their lives. So self harm acts as their control
June 10th, 2015 4:40pm
What goes on inside the mind of someone who self-harms is that by inflicting some physical pain, some of the emotional pain is released. Self-harming is, however, not a healthy and constructive way to manage emotional pain.
September 7th, 2015 1:40am
It feels as if a relief because you are giving yourself pain insfead of dealing with the pain that you were feeling
February 22nd, 2016 6:43pm
because it takes your mind off of the pain you're feeling "in your soul" if i may, and makes your mind focus on pain you can actually see. It's a way to distract the mind in a way, or should i say relieve it by giving it a palpable, physical pain you can see and feel and understand as opposed to feeling so sad your whole being hurts, but not being really able to see and fathom it.
March 22nd, 2016 12:31pm
Scientifically, self-harming gives a feeling like that due to the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical in our bodies that causes a feeling of relief or relaxation or even just flat out happiness. However you have to be very careful because it can easily become like an addiction, where someone does it so often that the initial cut like normal isn't enough, so they have to cut deeper or more to get the same feeling. That's extremely dangerous.
September 5th, 2016 5:37pm
No, it isn't. It may provide relief from the frustration for the time being, but in the long run, it will ruin you.
October 24th, 2016 8:32pm
When you get hurt your body releases endorphin to your brain to calm you, this is a type of drug and you can become addicted to it just like any other drug.
February 12th, 2018 1:34am
The physical pain of self-harm takes away from someone’s mental pain temporarily, and this is relieving.
February 20th, 2018 9:47pm
Self-harm might feel as a feeling of relief for people who can't or don't know how to get their sadness out so they think that grabbing a blade and slicing their skin is going to help them
October 12th, 2020 2:52pm
generally people tend to inflict self harm upon themselves when they are feeling an array of emotions and troublesome thoughts. as by doing so momentarily, the individual is no longer focusing on these emotions and thoughts but rather the pain they felt when they hurt themselves. in other words it gives you a vent to let go of all these feelings and thoughts that were stirring in your mind. however, subconsciously these feelings and ideas are still there its just that for a moment you have pushed them into the back of your mind. as a result, inflicting self harm gives a sense of relief.