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Pastoral guidance for the self-mutilator.

In this article it seemed that the increase in the occurrence of self-mutilation among young people in many cases served as a pressure-relief valve and not a suicide attempt as such. It was very often the outcome of ill-treatment and/ or sexual abuse and the person used this method to get rid of the inner pain. Feelings of aloneness, a need to be in control, a need to feel at least something and a need to punish the self could also have played a role. The family climate was generally very important. This provided a special challenge for pastoral counsellors as well as the church by, among others, focussing more on the problem of pain and how to handle it. This was relevant to the fact that denial had played a significant role in certain church circles as well as within some families.
As part of the pastoral-therapeutic strategy in helping the self-mutilator, aspects such as identifying the role of lies, the use of solutions from the past, forgiveness, the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and meditation were therefore very important components in the healing process. Pastoral counsellors would have to be well informed about the phenomenon of self-mutilation in order to be able to be of real help.

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