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Self-Harm, God, Faith and Religion

Some people harm themselves physically or emotionally or socially on purpose.

You don't need to hurt yourself physically to self-harm. Here are some examples.

Self-pity when it goes on too long may be a sign that the person wants to torment themselves.

People may withdraw from social contact as a means of hurting themselves. This leads to a vicious circle that is hard to escape from.

If people feel desperate and helpless, hurting themselves helps them feel that they are in control. You are trying to transcend the pain and feel in control of it. You are using pain to do this as if it is the servant and you are the master.

There is some relief in pain you cause to yourself for you can stop it. It does not feel as bad when you control it.
You may put yourself in pain to distract yourself from the pain you cannot take charge of. Here you actually believe that you are bigger than the pain as long as you don't think about it. This is faith. It is implied faith in the supernatural. Only one who thinks magic keeps her safe would act that way. Not all faith in the supernatural needs to be explicit and clear. It can be a vague hunch that you don't even recognise as faith in magic.

Self-harm can relieve or reduce anger, rage and tension. It is a way of getting out the forces that have been bottled up.

Self-harm may be about punishing yourself because you feel guilt and shame or either of them. Religious faith will worsen this for if you feel that way when you only believe in people you will feel worse if you believe that you offend a God in addition to offending people when you do wrong. Also, religion exaggerates how wrong some things are (eg sex outside marriage will drag you to Hell forever unless you repent) and invents sins such as refusing to believe the required teachings of the pope. Religion worries about things nobody sane worries about!

Another problem is morality. Morality is a law in the sense that it looks for rules and applies them to work out who deserves blessings and who does not. It is looking for judging whether that judging be positive for the target or negative or neutral . It is not about communicating with the person and trying to understand them and saving or weaning them away from the choices they make that draw unhappiness upon them. If it does show concern for the wellbeing that is a side-effect. It is still not what morality is about. The concern then comes with a sting.

If you feel numb and that you are like a fish out of water, if you feel a huge sense of separateness between you and other people and even your own body, you may hurt yourself in order to feel real and to feel part of it all. Religious faith certainly contributes to this. Religion tends to make people feel that they and their bodies are two separate things. In religion your body dies but you live on. This can lead to you feeling dead and needing to hurt yourself to feel alive and that you are actually really in the world.

The concept of God facilitates and amplifies the sense of detachment. Detachment is about numbing yourself so that you protect yourself from suffering. The notion that other people's suffering happens for a worthwhile divine purpose involves denial that suffering is life telling you life is worthless. Suffering is the experience of a useless existence. Suffering is a lie in that sense. But it does not help to tell people that their suffering has value. In fact telling them and recognising that it is useless is helping them feel supported. They want others to have a glimmer of understanding. They need others to see that the suffering is futile and totally unjustifiable. You cannot really comfort a person if you have the wrong idea of what their suffering is like. Your attempts to comfort them do further harm for they are shallow and patronising and nobody can feel comforted by anybody who has no idea of what they are going through. You make them feel more isolated.
The "infallible" Bible says, "Nobody ever hated their own body." To believe the Bible demands that you have no empathy with anorexics and people who do hate their own bodies. You are not allowed to believe them when they say they hate their bodies. You are to be one cause of their suicide for they cannot bear to be among people who do not understand.
People may not want to talk about what they are doing to themselves for they feel stupid and ashamed. Religious doctrine that sees suffering as a means of good because God lets it happen and God is all-good encourages that fear. Religious doctrine that denies you can hate your body is as bad.
The self-harmer can develop a victim mentality which entails:

-Making excuses for the grave evils done to you by others.

-Getting yourself to believe they never happened.

-Depriving yourself of support by convincing others that the evils were trivial or didn't happen.
They may feel better in doing this but it is dangerous. It is a bad example for other vulnerable people. And it is a lie so the feeling better is part of the problem.
And some people look on suffering people through the lens of a victim mentality. They have no mentality like that for themselves but for others. Most if not all believers in God are treating the evil others endure as if it has a divine purpose. Yet they may try to protect themselves from suffering by eating frugally and being celibate and prayerful and having no idea of what a normal life is like. It does not matter to them that the good feelings that may come if you imagine your suffering is doing you good are not to be celebrated and are part of the problem and indeed the worst part. It is better to suffer horrendously and experience that something is wrong and terrible and needs to be rooted out than to soften that suffering with platitudes and religious faith.

Self-harm is dangerous. Yet holy people accept suffering in such a way that it is like they would do it to themselves. Their accepting is like trying to suffer. It may have some rewards but is a terrible thing to do. They share their faith in
You don't want to be part of a sub-culture of self-harming to get validation. So even if it means breaking a confidence or offending somebody, you have to identify when self-harming is taking place and say that there is a better way. It might be a long way and far from easy but it is still the right way.

If you make yourself a slave to a God you are not sure enough of that is self-harm.