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Self-Harm as an Abnormal Behavior

Basics of Cognitive-Behavioral perspective

There are many psychological perspectives that can be used to understand human behavior and the ways in which people come to interact with each other. Society functions in accordance with a variety of rules, traditions, and regulations that are formed during its development. Any individual’s actions and influence can be measured in accordance with social norms and the practices that are considered beneficial to human development. In cases where a person’s actions and or character can be considered detrimental or alienating to themselves or others, their behaviors are called abnormal. Many types of abnormal behavior are considered criminal or generally frowned upon by society. There is a wide array of frameworks and approaches to understand the causes and triggers of abnormal behavior, rooted in the human condition or outside interference. Biological theories try to explain what chemical reactions and peculiarities of the human body cause people to behave in a particular manner. Psychological explanations, on the other hand, tend to look for explanations in the human psyche and the way social life influences our understanding of life, ourselves, and other people. The theory central to this paper is the cognitive-behavioral outlook. In essence, it is believed that human thought and the way people think about themselves and others influence their emotions and actions. This theory supposes that a person can change the way they behave by adjusting their thinking to a healthier and more beneficial perspective. The theories are widely used in therapy for a variety of different conditions, including addiction, abuse, and trauma.

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Outlook on Self-Harm

Self-harm can be categorized as a type of abnormal behavior, as it serves to physically harm the individual and is generally seen in an unfavorable light. Socially, the practice of self-harm is seen as dangerous, and many people can become alienated from their community for engaging in it. In terms of cognitive-behavioral outlook, this practice is caused primarily by a negative self-perception (Slee et al., 2007). People who have a good level of self-esteem and self-perception are not keen on hurting themselves in a physical manner, meaning that self-harm is an activity people with a warped sense of self usually engage in. Negative thoughts, self-loathing, and thoughts of isolation and dissatisfaction with one’s body all can serve as a catalyst for this type of behavior. Harmful thoughts become a catalyst for a negative emotional state, including feelings of depression, fear, sadness, anger, and anxiety. Such emotions directed at one’s self cause people to lash out and react in a physical manner, attempting to lessen the emotional feedback from their minds. This can be considered the general outlook the cognitive-behavioral theory provides in relation to self-harm.

Comparison with the Sociocultural outlook

Generally, the examined outlook is good for understanding some of the facets of self-harm, as well as its probable causes for some types of people. However, just as people are varied, their particular reasons for harming themselves can come from different backgrounds. The cognitive-behavioral theory pinpoints self-loathing and negative perception of oneself as the core reason behind self-harm, but that perspective is flawed. In many cases, people come to harm themselves as a result of outside influence, or harm done to them by other individuals. Many factors can come to influence a person’s emotional state, upset the inherent balance present inside each person. Such occurrences as psychological trauma, abuse, conflicts, or a general inability to function within society can all become a trigger for someone’s actions. From this point of view, some theories are better equipped to address and examine the underlying reasoning behind self-harm. The sociocultural outlook, for example, is far more capable of analyzing the overarching causes of self-harm. Social influence has a large effect on the way people behave, and what kinds of actions they consider normal or beneficial (Althoff et al., 2011). The influence of a person’s social circle is great in matters of abnormal behavior (Parkar et al., 2008). It may be that a person does not understand that their actions are harmful, or experiences the influence of others in a harmful manner.

Potential benefits of Different interpretations

Different interpretations of phycological problems and types of behavior can be immensely eye-opening for the way society treats and examines abnormal behavior. By taking into consideration the variety of underlying reason’s for a person’s action, Society can come to understand the ways it can improve in and possible direction of development. Understanding a problem and its causes is the first step to solving it, and examining why people behave in an abnormal fashion is needed to improve how society functions. Crime and other anti-social deeds are often difficult to understand, and pinpointing a concrete singular reason for any occurrence is near impossible. For this reason, having a varied outlook is necessary, as a broader perspective can be integrated into beneficial practices that help a large number of people. Some theories explain the physical and biological reasoning behind an action, which can serve as a guideline for treating the body. Other perspectives focus on the mind, allowing both professionals and normal people to adjust their behaviors in a way that leads to human prosperity and flourishment. Those practices that identify large social trends or factors are invaluable just as much, as they can present the most coherent framework for global change.


Althoff, R. R., Hudziak, J. J., Willemsen, G., Hudziak, V., Bartels, M., & Boomsma, D. I. (2011). Genetic and environmental contributions to self‐reported thoughts of self‐harm and suicide. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 159B(1), 120–127. Web.

Parkar, S. R., Dawani, V., & Weiss, M. G. (2008). Gender, Suicide, and the Sociocultural Context of Deliberate Self-Harm in an Urban General Hospital in Mumbai, India. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 32(4), 492–515. Web.

Slee, N., Arensman, E., Garnefski, N., & Spinhoven, P. (2007). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Deliberate Self-Harm. Crisis, 28(4), 175–182. Web.

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