So, a painful feeling associated with a traumatic memory might be detached from that memory such that the traumatized person remembers the event as though it happened in a movie; as though it happened to someone else and they were just watching it unfold, numb to the experience.We're all familiar with the idea that it is painful to experience pain sensations.Seizing this control involves shifting the focus of their attention away from something more troubling towards something less troubling.
By cutting themselves, they are able to refocus their attention on the pain of the cut and for a short while, experience relief from the rape trauma.
A variation on the theme of regaining control, is the idea that people self-injure as a means of releasing tension.
Such panic interferes with thinking, and makes it harder for people to understand the motives behind self-injury.
Further complicating the matter is the way that self-injury looks like it must be a suicide attempt even though it usually isn't.
This basic understanding is not often there when people are confronted with someone who is cutting or burning or otherwise traumatizing themselves.
People don't have good reference points to use so as to understand what motivates self-injury or what people who self-injure are trying to accomplish.
That acts of self-injury are so often bloody and horrifying that it makes it harder for people to be thoughtful about what these acts mean.
There is a tendency to panic when you see someone you care about bleeding from self-inflicted wounds, or covered with scars.
Sometimes an aspect of a person's chaotic internal experience is that feelings and thoughts build up a subjective state of tension or arousal that motivates people to do something to take action to reduce that tension or arousal.