Self Inflicted is an up close and intimate portrait of NSSI (Non Suicidal Self-Injury.) NSSI is the purposeful destruction of one’s own bodily tissues in an effort to alleviate emotional distress. Typically, NSSI shows up in the form of cutting, burning, bruising, etc. Through interviews with the top research scientists in the field of NSSI, along with sociologists, as well as life-time to novice self-harmers, viewers gain insight into this increasingly common coping mechanism. Reassuring advice from the people coping with this illness, as well as from the professionals, lets viewers know that NSSI can be managed, and treated with good outcomes.
© Human Relations Media
video, plus teacher’s resource book, student handouts and pre/post tests in digital format
Non Suicidal Self Injury, or NSSI, is the focus of this Human Relations Media production. Opening with testimonies from young adults who have self-harmed, the stage is set for a good introduction to the topic. As Janis, Alex, and Judy explain the situations and the emotions that made them injure themselves by cutting, punching, or burning, a picture of the adolescent self-harmer begins to merge. Experts in the field also weigh in with reasons that people engage in NSSI, chief among them being the quick relief that physical harm brings them from intense emotional and psychological pain and anxiety.
While we mostly associate NSSI with young adults, Self Inflicted wisely includes the example of Shelly—a 42 year old woman who has been self-harming for 28 years. Her story is poignant and a bit shocking, and points to the addictive nature of this disorder. Families of self-harmers are also brought in to explore their reactions, as well as ways they can help the self-harmer try to manage emotions in a healthier way than physical injury.
The experts in the film do a good job of describing the intense symptoms that self-harmers feel and they explain a little about what happens the brain to cause a physical outlet for emotional pain. They point out that there is very little, if any, research being conducted into NSSI. That being stated, the film would benefit from more in-depth facts about the neurological triggers for self-harm. Self Inflicted is a good beginning for high school level through junior college health and psychology courses exploring this anomalous condition.
—Lori Widzinski, Multimedia Collections and Services, University Libraries, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)
Recommended. Eschewing graphic images and alarmist rhetoric, Self Inflicted calmly explores the phenomenon of non-suicidal self-injury, seeking through interviews to understand why some people choose to hurt themselves. According to Mitch Prinstein, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, “Cutting is the most common form of non-suicidal self-injury.” The reasons vary, but the afflicted seek an outlet for coping with problems rather than simply running away from them. Janis, one of three subjects, describes herself as outgoing. She started to cut herself when she found the stress from college overwhelming. She would cut her arms, bandage them up, and then cover the bandages with her clothing. When her friends found out, they offered unconditional support, and she was able to stop when she realized that she was also hurting them. Alex cites high school bullying as the instigating factor. Instead of fighting back, he would hit punch, or cut himself in private until he found less destructive outlets for his frustration. Shelly, who is 42, self-harmed for 28 years. She describes it as an addiction, but appears to have the situation under control, and now concentrates on sharing information and providing resources for other sufferers (her story could have actually used more detail). Other speakers include a mother and a sister reflecting on their experiences as both outsiders and as part of a support system. An initial onscreen warning cautions viewers about the material, but the re-enactments of self-harm and glimpses of scar tissue are brief and impressionistic.