Self Injury, also known as Self Harm, is injury that a person deliberately inflicts on their own body without suicidal intent.
The most common image of a self-injurer is the so-called “cutter” – the person who cuts her own flesh, usually in a ritualistic fashion. The goal is to induce physical pain in order to cancel out or escape emotional pain and social anxiety. Of course, the term Self Injury is quite broad. For instance, the anorexic who starves her body to the point of disfigurement is engaging in a particular form of self injury.
So, does picking your fingers put you in the same league as a “cutter”? Not necessarily, though the parallels should be obvious when we look at a cutter’s personality profile:
A cutter has difficulty dealing with emotional stress
A cutter has difficulty dealing with social discomfort
A cutter has feelings of inadequacy
Obsessive/compulsive finger picking crosses over the line to self injury when blood is drawn or the fingers become disfigured – but the person still continues to pick.
Full-blown cutting is usually associated with previous sexual or physical abuse in a person’s past so the comparison shouldn’t be over-played. But at the extreme end of impulsive finger picking can be the self-injurer. Shame is an obvious side-effect of self injury.