What are different types of self harm

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

Self-injurious behavior (SVV) is understood to be actions that consciously damage the body surface. These actions are not socially acceptable and are not intended to be suicidal. Self-harm is not an independent clinical picture but occurs as a symptom of a mental disorder or illness or even without accompanying comorbid psychiatric illness. The most common form of self-harm is the infliction of cuts with sharp or pointed objects such as knives, razor blades, shards or needles. This so-called “scratching” or “cutting” takes place mainly on the arms and legs as well as in the area of ​​the chest and stomach. But burns or chemical burns also occur with self-injurious behavior.

Adolescents with mental disorders or problems have a particularly high risk of developing self-harming behavior. In addition to illnesses - such as depression, obsessive-compulsive eating or anxiety disorders - a lack of self-esteem, the inability to express feelings and weak self-regulatory powers can also be the cause. Self-harm is particularly common in the context of a borderline personality disorder.
In the past, self-harm often had a religious background, e.g. so-called "flagellants" in medieval Christianity whipped themselves to repent. Similar practices were also reported in pre-Christian religions. Since the 1990s, there has been an increase in self-harming behavior among young people in Europe and America, as well as in Eastern countries. However, SVV can also occur in older people. Physical damage in the context of stereotypical self-harm (e.g. in the case of autistic or mentally handicapped people) is not counted as SIA in the strict sense of the word.

In Germany, lifetime prevalence rates of 25% and one-year prevalence rates of 14% have been described in adolescents. Around 4% of adolescents repeatedly show self-harming behavior (repetitive SVV). No data are available from adulthood. A worldwide prevalence of SIA in adolescence of around 19% is reported.