Being in a Relationship with a Self-Destructive Personality: What You Need to Know


Defining Self-Destructive Behavior

Let’s start off by answering the question of what self-destructive behavior is.

self-destructive tendencies

Some psychologists define self-destructive behavior as negative emotions directed towards oneself like anger or irritation. Others define it as self-harming behavior, directed at harming oneself, one’s well-being, and mental balance. We adhere to the second definition because emotions are subtle things, and it is necessary to deal with them in each specific case. Behavior is an easier thing to understand than emotions.

Self-destructive behavior can manifest itself in different ways. Sometimes a person realizes that they are angry with themselves and hurts themselves, and sometimes they do it unconsciously. In this case, the person does not recognize self-destructive behavior, but something happens to them as if “by accident.” For example, they lose their caution and get an injury, or begin to search for conflict and provoke a fight. Or they work without any rest and then end up in a hospital.

Self-destructive behavior not necessarily involves active actions like wounding oneself. Unconsciously, it can manifest itself in careless driving, which provokes accidents, in alcohol and drugs abuse, or in giving up the habit of looking around before crossing the road. Unhealthy habits like smoking and overeating are also about self-destructive behavior. By the way, some psychoanalysts consider smoking and drinking alcohol as signs of fixation at the oral-sadistic stage — the period when a child bites on their mother’s breast and thus, realizes their power over her. After all, alcohol and smoking give burning sensations, concentrated in the oral cavity. But enthusiasm for extreme sports is often caused by the desire to fill in some kind of emptiness in life and make it brighter due to a surge of adrenaline. In my opinion, most of these sports are not as dangerous as they seem at first glance. Drinking alcohol or driving aggressively is more destructive than, for example, mountain biking.

Sometimes self-destructive behavior is not expressed in any actions but manifests itself in psychosomatics. A person does not let out negative emotions, accumulates stress, and then gets ill with some disease. Most often, these are diseases of the cardiovascular system (for example, hypertension) or the gastrointestinal tract (gastritis, ulcers, esophagitis).

Let’s now talk about the signs of self-destructive personality.

Signs of Self-Destructive Behavior

What is the nature of self-destructive tendencies? By its nature, self-destructive behavior can also be different. And thus, there are different self-destructive behavior causes. It can occur as a result of being aggressive to someone else. Moral norms and rules do not approve of anger towards parents, close ones, and people alike. But these emotions are there, which means that they must somehow find a way out. So they are expressed in a more socially acceptable way - in relation to themselves.self-destructive personality

The second reason for self-destructive behavior is guilt. It may appear as a consequence of other people's manipulations. For example, parents often instill a sense of guilt in children because it is easier to control them this way. “I have given you my whole life,” or “Because of you, I got a heart attack” - a mother or father makes it clear that a child is guilty, which means that they should behave as they say. Plus, the children invent responsibility for circumstances that really do not depend on them. For example, they may blame themselves for the fact that parents are unhappy in marriage. While it is obviously very much wrong, a child begins to feel like they are the reason why their mother and father are not happy. When a child grows up, the feeling of guilt remains with them. So, with the help of self-destructive behavior, a person copes with a sense of guilt. They punish themselves, and after suffering punishment, they are temporarily relieved. Guilt is one of the most frequent sources of self-destructive behavior.

The third option is that self-destructive behavior occurs as a demonstration of something. A person wants to attract the attention of others, to achieve their sympathy, help. We are brought up so that we cannot ask for help, we have no right to be weak, we should not be afraid of anything in the first place. Strong negative emotions towards oneself do not always stand behind a demonstrative self-destructive behavior, but this does not make them any less dangerous. By a tragic accident, an "unserious" attempt to commit suicide or injure oneself can end very badly.

Now let’s look into some specific self-destructive behavior signs with self-destructive behavior examples.

Self-destructive behaviors can occur both consciously and unconsciously, so a person is far from being able to explain what they are doing and what the causes of their behavior are. To recognize self-destructive behavior in some cases can be quite problematic since a person, with the preservation of critical thinking, has a desire to hide this aspect of their life. When being observed, these people tend to wear long-sleeved clothes, sweaters, and shirts, relatives may notice blood on clothes, frequent “accidental” traumatic situations, desire for solitude, irritability, increased incidence of psychoactive substances, drugs, cigarettes.

The direct signs of self-destructive behavior include suicidal attempts, refusal to eat, self-inflicting bodily harm (cuts, burns, beatings). In these critical manifestations of self-destructive behavior, you should immediately seek the help of professionals (psychiatrists, psychotherapists or psychologists) to prevent a negative outcome of the situation. And the initiator of a visit to a doctor or a call to a psychiatric team should be someone who noticed what is happening since the person cannot critically assess the situation in this state and will not turn for help.

As we’ve already mentioned, in society, there are relatively supported forms of self-destructive behavior, which are quite common as ways to relieve stress. They can be expressed in the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco in situations involving stress; attachment to extreme sports, and leisure choosing a dangerous field of activity; minor destructive behavioral reactions (tearing off crusts from healing wounds, nibbling nails, and tasting one’s own blood, etc.). It is important to know that it is much more crucial to prevent self-destructive behavior itself than its direct signs.

Let’s find out how to stop self-destructive behavior.

How to Help Someone with Self-Destructive Behavior

How to stop being self-destructive or help a person you love to cope with it? Self-destructive behavior in adults and children can be treated at any stage, however, the priority for progress along the path of recovery is awareness of what is happening as a problem that goes beyond the limits of the norm.

The initial stage in dealing with self-destructive behavior is to identify the reasons for which self-destructive behavior has appeared or has been developed, in order to further find new, less traumatic ways to overcome unbearable experiences. Self-directed work may be a reorientation of behavior and the replacement of destructive actions by others.

  • In the case of intolerable pain and other strong emotions, it can help express your feelings in a text or picture, the sheet can then be torn or burned.
  • Being calm, doing something relaxing like having a hot bath, petting an animal, watching a movie, can be quite effective when a person wants to be alone.
  • With a feeling of inner emptiness and the desire to feel at least something, you can take a cold shower, eat something with an interesting taste (spicy, sour, tart), chat with strangers.
  • With a fit of overwhelming anger, you can do sports, beat pillows, tear up paper, shout.
  • In turn, it is very important for relatives and friends to help a person with self-destructive behavior. Surrounding people can help, show their care, provide support, show their love. It is important to stay close when a person is going through these emotions, showing that you accept a person with their
  • problems, that they can open up to you. Praise and criticize a person less often, avoid derogatory and insulting statements.
  • If independent work is impossible or unsuccessful, then it is necessary to consult a doctor for treatment. Treatment is likely to require a combination of psychological work, which will consist of training and individual exercises, as well as taking medications (tranquilizers and antidepressants, the dosages and combinations of which are selected individually by the doctor in each case).

Forced treatment of self-destructive behavior is also prescribed when there is a threat to human life and health, suicidal behavior, injury to the body, refusal to eat.self-destructive behaviors

Prevention of self-destructive behavior is relevant since childhood when it is necessary to eliminate the causes that contribute to the occurrence of destructive tendencies as much as possible.

How to stop self-destructive behavior in relationships?

Self-Destructive Behavior in Relationships

What can you do about self-destructive behavior in relationships? What if your partner is suffering from it?

  • Make them feel loved

We are all different, this means that we all have our own ways of perceiving the love of other people, especially those that surround us. If a person is ill with self-destructive behavior – give them all sorts of different gifts, the main thing is that they should be sincere in nature.

  • Don’t be too obsessive

This is a very important thing you should remember, don’t be too overwhelming, it will do more harm than good. Self-destructive people perceive such behavior as your pain, and you are suffering because of their behavior.

  • Show compassion

They should feel your love and sense of care. They must know that you will always be there when they need you.

  • Contact a specialist

There is no other way to put it, the easiest way to battle this problem is to contact a specialist that will help a person overcome their issues.

  • Don’t criticize your partner

While sure, you may feel like they have earned a healthy dose of criticism, it doesn’t mean that you should express it, they spend a lot of time criticizing themselves.

  • Don’t try to be their doctor

You are not, you are not qualified to do it, and you may do a lot more harm than good.

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