Borderline Personality Disorder is a breading ground for self harm. Self mutilation and all forms of self harm make up the borderline language of pain. Cutting, burning, impulsive sex, impulsive shopping, overeating or under eating are all examples of self harm that many with Borderline Personality Disorder engage in.


Click Here To Purchase A.J. Mahari’s 3 Core Wound of Abandonment Ebooks packaged together, with or without audio programs.

To purchase all 3 of A.J. Mahari’s Ebooks for Non Borderlines packaged together with or without audio programs.

You can purchase other ebooks about Borderline Personality Disorder and/or Audio Programs on various aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder by A.J. Mahari as well.


Self-mutilation, for many who have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), is a learned language of profound pain. It is a primordial scream for help. It is the apex of needing to be heard, validated, and soothed. It is one of the most prolific and anguished expressions of borderline pain. It is self-defeating and holds you hostage to the pain of the false self — to the pain that you can’t heal by further wounding your body and your precious soul.

It has been said by many, borderlines and professionals alike that those with BPD lack emotional skin and are for a myriad of reasons far more sensitive than the general population.

Many with BPD struggle with the intense and unrelenting agony of self-hatred. This self-hatred (false self which has emerged to protect true self) and accompanying pain is more repressed more often than not.

This pain of self-hatred on top of a stockpile of pain generally is way too much pain and is often felt with little to no conscious understanding or awareness of the origin of it. Reasons for the pain may widely vary but clearly most with BPD (until they get sufficient therapy)do not have the skills to apply to the soothing of that pain other than to self-mutilate, act out, or make a whole host of unhealthy choices that while protective are primitive and self-defeating. Choices that keep you stuck and cause people with BPD (and those who love them) more and more pain.

While not all who have BPD cut or burn themselves or harm themselves in other direct ways, most with BPD do engage in harmful behaviour that doesn’t always mean the immediate physical consequence of pain. For example, compulsive overeating, shopping, drinking, drugs and so forth. All of which can be about self-harm but is not self-mutilation though the impetus to engage in these behaviours is largely driven by the same impulses to be soothed and relieved of what hurts, to distract from what hurts, to avoid one’s feelings and are often the result of distorted black-and-white – all-or-nothing thinking.

Those Borderlines who do self-mutilate, however, in more cases than not, find that the need to hurt themselves is not only very impulsive but that it also continues to grow in frequency and severity. Self-mutilating is the way that your body cries in what are unhealthy and unproductive ways to relieve pain, anger and/or rage.

Self-mutilation is all about externalizing your pain. This externalization of pain likely goes back to a time in childhood when a source of great pain to you (from outside of yourself) left you feeling helpless – annihilated – totally shamed. The pain was so great that you couldn’t process it inside or take it inside of yourself because to do so (even if you could have) would have surely meant death. What overwhelms a child in a painful and negative way can seem like a very real impending threat of death.

You can and do need to learn how to deal with it internally and age-appropriately. Your pain is not some monster that sits outside of you waiting to devour you. You pain is a part of you and you can learn to manage it in healthy productive ways.

If you self-mutilate you need to realize that you are doing the best you can. You are responding to what you know feels like an immediate need to rid yourself of any unpleasant to overwhelming or mortally distressful feelings that you do not have the personal skills to cope with or the ability (presently) to tolerate.

For many (as was the case in my experience years ago) it is important and helpful to figure out in therapy why you have not only the feelings that you do but the matching inability or lack of skills to cope with them. However, in some cases, the reasons why are evasive and not known for whatever reasons. If you self-mutilate and/or feel like you hate yourself and you don’t have any conscious idea why it is more important to find the help you need to intervene in your self-destructive behaviour than it is to figure out why. Why may come later. In the meantime though you need to learn how to tolerate the distress you often feel so that you will still be alive to acquire more understanding over time.

You can and do need to learn how to deal with it internally and age-appropriately. Your pain is not some monster that sits outside of you waiting to devour you. You pain is a part of you and you can learn to manage it in healthy productive ways.

If you self-mutilate you need to realize that you are doing the best you can. You are responding to what you know feels like an immediate need to rid yourself of any unpleasant to overwhelming or mortally distressful feelings that you do not have the personal skills to cope with or the ability (presently) to tolerate.

For many (as was the case in my experience years ago) it is important and helpful to figure out in therapy why you have not only the feelings that you do but the matching inability or lack of skills to cope with them. However, in some cases, the reasons why are evasive and not known for whatever reasons. If you self-mutilate and/or feel like you hate yourself and you don’t have any conscious idea why it is more important to find the help you need to intervene in your self-destructive behaviour than it is to figure out why. Why may come later. In the meantime though you need to learn how to tolerate the distress you often feel so that you will still be alive to acquire more understanding over time.


Click Here To Purchase A.J. Mahari’s 3 Core Wound of Abandonment Ebooks packaged together, with or without audio programs.

To purchase all 3 of A.J. Mahari’s Ebooks for Non Borderlines packaged together with or without audio programs.

You can purchase other ebooks about Borderline Personality Disorder and/or Audio Programs on various aspects of Borderline Personality Disorder by A.J. Mahari as well.


What feels so urgently horrific to you emotionally that it causes you such unresolved and repetitive pain or unrelenting pain and leaves you feeling so helpless in the face of your own often alienated feelings causing you to choose to mutilate yourself in the experience of most with BPD is not really about the things that you react to in the here and now’s of your life. While this is what you may tie your feelings, distortions, reactions and fears to with regard to your emotions you are likely carrying a stockpile of unresolved feelings from your childhood that get triggered in the here and now by daily things. Thus what you react to has such a profound intensity.

The first step in dealing with self-mutilating behaviour is to find professional help. This is often very difficult depending upon where you live and how much money you have and then also depending upon the degree to which your local mental health delivery system ostracizes and ascribes to the stigma that borderlines can’t be treated or don’t get better anyway and are more trouble than they are worth. This is not true and don’t let encountering that attitude shame you or keep you from continuing to reach out to get help. Borderlines can and do get better.

That attitude is out there and encountered way too frequently by people with BPD who really need help and who can and will benefit from that help when it is delivered justly, timely, with limits and boundaries, effectively, and non-judgemental way with an attitude of empathy and care and a belief that borderlines can and do get better – in other words professionally. There are many therapists out there who either specialize in Borderline Personality Disorder, or who know enough about it to be able to effectively treat it. Many work very hard. I personally was very lucky in my therapy travels years ago. I don’t want to lump all therapists together. So, keeping that in mind, search until you find someone and/or the information (books, self-help) that you need to learn the skills necessary to cope with your feelings and to tolerate the distress you will feel as you transition from cutting and burning (etc) to feeling and dealing with your emotions.

Self-mutilation is chosen behaviour. You have chosen it to help you because you don’t feel competent to do anything else emotionally and/or you don’t have the developmental tools that others have that helps them to cope with life in age-appropriate and healthy non-destructive ways. Don’t be hard on yourself about that.

he catch-22 to stopping self-mutilating behaviour is that while you use this method of coping with your emotions, feelings, cognitively-distorted thoughts and stress you will initially encounter a new type of formidable stress in making new choices. I have done it. It has been done. Many have done it. Know that you too can do it.

Every time you cut or burn yourself you would be better served by crying. You need to cry. You need to feel. You need to tolerate what you feel. I get it that feeling for you feels more stressful and scary and overwhelming than cutting yourself and bleeding. However, the pain and the feelings that feel so huge to you and leave you feeling so small, so young, so out of control, so helpless, so intolerably vulnerable – feelings that feel like you will just DIE if you feel them – have their hold on you from your past and have that intensity based upon what you experienced as a child or young teen when you didn’t even have the myriad of choices available to you that are available to you now, as an adult.

If you were sexually abused, then it makes it clearer why you feel as you do. What we know about people who have been sexually abused as children is that it has very personality-changing effects. Trauma in the developmental years can and often does even change brain chemistry. The trauma of incest or being abused in other ways, of being neglected, of growing up without having your physical and psychosocial needs met and/or attempting to mature in an invalidating environment all cause us as children to stop developing emotionally. This is the case when you have BPD. You are stuck in some developmental stage. You have not fully matured emotionally. You can still mature emotionally. You really can.

For those who have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and who weren’t sexually abused, otherwise abused, neglected or invalidated, or who presently don’t remember any abuse, and who find themselves with no emotional skin and the need, urges, and impulses to cut, burn, or in any other way harm themselves, perception is everything.

Sometimes, for reasons that may or may not be understood, those with BPD, perceive things differently from how they actually are occurring in the shared collective reality of a family for example. This does not mean that what you perceived and experienced differently from say your siblings, for example, means that your experience is weird or nuts and that you are crazy — NO! It means that you had a different experience were more sensitive and your perceptions and experience were very real to you. You need to validate yourself and your experience and have a therapist help you in that process and perhaps the process of being re-parented in a way that teaches you now how to re-parent yourself to meet the needs that you didn’t have met or didn’t experience as being met.

If you self-mutilate or harm yourself in any way to avoid your feelings ask yourself why you feel that you deserve to hurt even more by inflicting pain and wounds on your body. You don’t deserve this at all. You really don’t. You are trapped in a cycle of distorted thinking and fear of feeling and being exposed, a cycle of shame that can be stopped in its tracks when you choose to make new choices. Sounds simple and trite I’m sure. It’s not simple at all – I know – I’ve been there. I’ve done it though. I’ve stopped harming myself and made new choices. I’ve learned the skills that I didn’t have the opportunity to learn growing up. I’ve re-parented myself. I believe in myself and I trust myself. In fact, I love myself now. If I can do it so can you!

Self Mutilation is a Borderline language of pain. It is choosing to allow your body to cry for you. It may relieve stress and distress and momentarily feel like a high and/or give you the feeling of great relief but the very minute you hurt yourself to help yourself you set yourself back up to repeat the cycle again. Your abusing your body is taking on the role of your abuser if you were abused. It is becoming an abuser to yourself if you weren’t abused. It will only perpetuate any self-hatred that you feel. It is a self-defeating cycle that truly only adds to your pain in the long run. Momentary relief is not worth the damage that you continue to do to yourself, not only physically, but emotionally as well. You need to value yourself enough to learn how to tolerate what hurts long enough to heal it.

Self Mutilation is a Borderline language of pain. It is a learned language of pain. It is a vehicle of expression. It hurts you even more. You can learn to express your pain in a healthier and truly emotional language – tears and words spoken that do not have to hold you hostage to the language of Borderline fear and shame. Your true self does not require or aspire to the drama of the tortured and pathologically protective false self.

As long as you continue to hurt yourself in all your best efforts to help yourself you will hold yourself hostage to the very pain you are so desperately trying not to feel. This means that you are making sure, each time you self-harm, that you will feel this pain, again and again.

You cannot heal this addicting pain that you cut or burn or otherwise harm yourself in order to avoid as long as you are stuck in this self-abusing cycle. In fact, your self-abuse is just calling to yourself more and more pain each and every time you hurt yourself.

You cannot heal by further wounding your body, your psyche and your precious soul.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari, April 21, 2005

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