Self-destructive behavior  

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"There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a Plunge. To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at thought, is to be inevitably lost; for reflection but urges us to forbear, and therefore it is, I say, that we cannot." --"The Imp of the Perverse" (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Self-destructive behaviour is a widely used phrase describing a broad set of extreme actions and emotions including self-harm and drug abuse. It can take a variety of forms, and be undertaken for a variety of reasons. It is most visible in young adults and adolescents, but it may affect people of any age.

Forms of self-destructive behavior

Self-destructive behavior is often considered to be synonymous with self-harm, but this is not accurate. Self-harm is an extreme form of self-destructive behavior, but it may appear in many other guises.

Self-destructive behavior may be used as a coping mechanism, when things get 'too much'. For example, faced with a pressing scholastic assessment, someone may choose to sabotage their work rather than cope with the stress. This would make submission of (or passing) the assessment impossible, but remove the worry associated with it.

Self-destructive behavior may also manifest itself in an active attempt to drive away other people. It may be used to end a romantic relationship in this way. Often, the person so acting feels that for whatever reason they are incapable of, or undeserving of, a relationship with the person they seek to drive away. They often hold this person in particularly high esteem, and do not wish to 'harm' them by creating or maintaining a connection with them.

Successful individuals may self-destructively sabotage their own achievements; this may stem from a feeling of unworthiness or from a desire to repeat the "climb to the top."

More obvious forms of self-destruction are eating disorders, alcohol abuse, drug addictions, self-injury and suicide attempts.

Causes of self-destructive behaviour

Self-destructive behaviour is often a form of self-punishment in response to a personal failure, which may be real or perceived. It may or may not be connected with feelings of self-hatred.

It is a common misconception that self-destructive behaviour is inherently attention seeking, or at least that attention is a primary motive. While this is undoubtedly true in some cases, normally the motivation runs much deeper than that.

As might be expected, it is more common in those afflicted with clinical depression.

Alternatively, in some cases it could be explained by a person having learned dysfunctional patterns earlier in life, or it may simply be the result of lack of applied wisdom or misplaced priorities.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Self-destructive behavior" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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