self harm disorder

Part 2 of the 8 part myths about skin picking disorder blog posts, with the copyright of the text at

Myth #2: Excoriation is a type of self-harm.

Fact: While compulsive skin picking is harmful to the picker, it is not a self-harm disorder.

Self-harm, officially known as “non-suicidal self-injury” (NSSI), is a psychological disorder where affected individuals deliberately inflict destruction on their own body tissue. They usually do this by biting, cutting, scratching or burning themselves.

Self-harm is a separate psychological entity from compulsive picking disorder. Unlike compulsive picking, which usually starts out as a subconscious behavior, self-harm is a deliberate, planned action, with different psychological features. Also unlike self-picking disorder, which is related to OCD and anxiety, NSSI is closely associated with borderline personality disorder. In fact, non-suicidal self-injury is classified in the DSM-5 as a symptom of borderline personality disorder.

So, although compulsive skin picking can be harmful and associated with some very harmful co-occurring problems, it is not a self-harm disorder.

There we have it. Skin picking disorder is not a self harm disorder, but it sure feels like one when we see the damage that we do to our skin daily? I would never know what it is like to cut myself with a razor, because I do not have that compulsion, but it’s helpful to become more knowledgeable about our mental health and disabilities.  

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