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PantherX , 16 Oct 2011

Is it self-harm, or just obsession?

I first started picking when I was very young because I was a curious child and wanted to see what my scabs looked like underneath and up close, what they tasted like (I eat my scabs as well), etc. Without really realizing it, I began picking every scab I could find. After all these years, even when I went through a bout of depression, I never deliberately cut or ripped smooth skin, only picking at pimples, mosquito bites, eczema, and the scabs that the breaking of these leaves behind. Not only that, but I pick and scratch at the bumps and blemishes of OTHER PEOPLE like my mom and younger brother. Whenever I see someone with a pimple I always have the strongest urge to have a go at it. My best friend and parents have taken over the past few years to slapping my hand whenever I pick at myself unconsciously. A few times, my mom has expressed concern that the picking is a self harm thing, but I tell her that it is not. The community's thoughts?
3 Answers
October 21, 2011
I used to work at a childrens psychiatric hospital. Some kids that would come in would really mess themselves up. The staff would always be on the watch for any kind of self harming marks...scratches...anything. A few times I was sitting there with a kid making sure they werent about do to something stupid and they would ask me about the bandaids on my fingers. Some kids didn't want to hold my hand because of the bandaids or wounds. I was pretty embarrassed and I realized that yes, my picking is a form of self harm. Most of the time I do it because I am simply obsessed with it but sometimes I do it out of self loathing...and that is when it gets really dangerous. If you ever get to a point where you are hurting yourself simply for the reason that you can't stand yourself its time to take action and get some help.
October 22, 2011
I see my picking as more of a compulsive/addictive behaviour than a self-harm. I don't intend to harm myself or cause pain really, a lot of the time I don't really realise I'm doing it. In some ways I think I kind of enjoy it, even though I regret it. The reality is that I am causing myself harm, whatever my intention. I have been a cutter in the past and I think there is probably a link between the behaviours, probably relating to some similar feelings, but they're not quite the same. But I think it's very different for different people.
October 26, 2011
I think it can be a self confidence issue. for me, if i have had a rough night or am feeling down i am more inclined to sit and pick on the edge of the bed in the morning, sinking into the dark sphere of picking on myself. mine started as curiosity too, as a kid i had intriguing crusts under my ears... then when i was in my 20s i would eat my scabs and skin flakes cos i was embarrassed about picking them, until mum told me off about that. i have considered my picking as self harm before, but now, after 20+ years of various versions of eczema and infections and pickings and insect bites, i think there is a lot of OCD going on too. when i see a psychologist and lesson my anxiety i feel better about things in general, and find my skin clears up. feeling numb, and picking so i FEEL something is part of my self harm picture. replacing negative pain feelings with positive ones is what i am aiming for next... if i get a seratonin hit from scratching, then maybe doing intense exercise, for me astaga yoga, will give me a positive seratonin hit. its my current theory anyway. Listen to your body, you are busy telling yourself something. Love to you.

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