Is Self Harm an Addiction?

I have read a few articles and posts online where people have said that they are addicted to self harming. Considering how hard it is to resist hurting yourself when triggered, it is not surprising to hear this word. However is “addiction” the right term to use?

“Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm”.

The very definition draws up some interesting debates, physical v psychological addictions.

A physical addiction is not controllable. A person who is denied a substance to which they are physically addicted will not have control over their bodies reactions.

Psychological addiction on the other hand is controllable. Gambling or self harm is a behaviour therefore many will argue that however hard these feelings are, they can be managed and controlled.

I am someone who self harms but I have never viewed it as an addiction. The word addiction for me doesn’t sit comfortably because it suggests that I am not in control of my actions. I self harm because of a need to gain control so to say I am addicted would contradict this. I would use the word reliant to define my relationship with self harm. It is my coping mechanism, but it is also a choice that I make and that I am responsible for. Again I feel the word addiction negates that level of responsibility. When I am in crisis, it doesn’t always feel like I have a choice but I do, and on good days I do realise that I need to learn to make better choices.

I am not going to say that someone who says they are addicted to self harm is wrong, but for me I don’t feel it is the right term to use.

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