Why write a post like this and the previous one, on scars and sexuality, beyond doubt a very personal and sensitive subject?
Not from a perverted interest or pleasure. Although the subject continues to interest and puzzle me, I don’t get any buzz from writing about it.
- As I have mentioned in earlier posts, writing helps me to research and reflect on issues that I find challenging.
- My other reason for writing is that a blogsite like this one lowers the walls that keep some of us locked in the worry and fear that I may be all alone on the planet with a uniquely strange problem.
Here are some further reflections and discoveries on this subject –
- I have read snippets about the infant surgery from more than a thousand people during the past 15 years, ranging from cryptic remarks to extensive correspondence. But very, very few of these people have mentioned a link between being scarred and traumatised by infant surgery and their sexual feelings. Significantly however, a very few have touched on this area or shown that it’s a factor in other ways. All of these are men – no surprise to me, and it should not surprise anybody reading this, as I am male and males and females experience our inner life somewhat differently.
- A book by Fiona Gardner, Self-Harm: A Psychotherapeutic Approach, Routledge, 2002, which I was able to browse through online included this insight –
Most adolescents begin to explore something about their developing sexual desires through masturbation. It is generally acknowledged that girls, in comparison to their male counterparts, masturbate less frequently and more indirectly, and rarely have spontaneous orgasms through masturbation. For boys the discovery of masturbation leads to the development of a sense of autonomy and can be used as a way of soothing or comforting themselves. … aspects of the repetitive harming of the skin can be seen to provide in part a masturbatory activity for some adolescent girls. This partly because of the feelings of self-soothing that are provoked and which co-exist alongside the libidinal gratification produced through the activity. (both p. 64)
What Fiona Gardner writes here complements what I wrote in my previous post. She also confirms what I have read elsewhere: that self-harm can be a masturbatory activity and is most prevalent among teenage girls – although not exclusively so.
- At an anonymous website dedicated to helping self-harmers from a (perhaps overly simplistic) Christian perspective I read –
Self-loathing and/or self-injury is an exceedingly complex issue because it is an expression of the depths of one’s humanity. Self-harm is a manifestation of a need that totally eclipses animals or machines – the need to comprehend complex concepts and emotions and to communicate them with an equally intelligent being. It reveals that you, like all humans, are a breathtakingly intricate, sophisticated and noble being with lofty ideals and a deep yearning to understand and be understood.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Until making this discovery, whenever anyone criticized me I would go into a tailspin; not only inwardly agreeing with the putdown but telling myself that I’m incurably wicked and deserve to be treated as dirt and ruthlessly punished. Quickly, the oppressive feeling would balloon until it was so overwhelming that I felt compelled to hurt myself (usually by cutting myself). After that, I’d feel so miserable that I’d be pressured to masturbate in a vain attempt to comfort myself.
Now, everything has changed!
- Self harm is addictive. The Fix website includes much of great clarity and value. Among this it states very concisely –
“When a person cuts, it calms them down, and that registers in the brain as a calming mechanism,” says Hokemeyer. “Once that happens, it’s a behavior that they will always be drawn to for the rest of their lives.”
I recognize now that I was drawn into this form of addiction in early teenage. It was all my own work, very private and never shared in any way. It was absolutely clear to me that there was a connection between my infant surgery for pyloric stenosis, self-harming and my dawning sexuality, but I was quite unable to understand, let alone escape from this super-glue web. However, I also knew that this addiction was relatively harmless to myself, harmed nobody else, had a negligible effect on my life, and would therefore not trouble God (as I believed in him on the basis of the Bible).
- Several websites I looked up link massage, tattooing and acupuncture as pleasurable and even addictive to some because they release beta-endorphins. These procedures are often recommended after surgery because endorphins reduce pain and increase blood circulation, healing, waste removal as well as giving pleasure and comfort. These effects from the release of this handy hormone may also reduce scarring in the weeks and months after surgery and other injury.
When I was a lad and teenager in the 1950s and ‘60s, trauma and its effects were unknown to people like me. I have since come to recognize that the trauma associated with my pyloric stenosis was the missing link that connected all my “weird” urges, behaviour and coping mechanisms on a thread that also included the other problems I mentioned in my previous post: anger, shame, mistrust, etc.
Long live the Information Revolution!