Q:I do extreme things to get attention. I always want to hurt myself so people will notice me. And I actually do bruise and cut myself so people will notice. I have also found myself lying and exaggerating to get attention. This is an addiction. I’ve been struggling with it my entire life.

Is there a diagnosis for this kind of behavior? Do I need special help or can I cure this addiction myself?

A: Yes, it’s a behavioral addiction, and yes you definitely need a good therapist to help you overcome it.

The answer about diagnosis, however, is that there is a diagnosis for every person and every type of behavior. Diagnoses don’t mean much, and knowing someone’s diagnosis doesn’t help a therapist much. Diagnoses are just generalized ways of describing unique individuals. (We are totally unique “snowflakes” and any diagnosis we get is like saying there is snow in Alaska… it doesn’t relate enough to us as the unique, complex people we are, and, most importantly, it hides the beautiful detail we see when we get to know the real person.)

But forget my rant about diagnoses for now.

Just call a good therapist. Anyone who does physically self-destructive things – cutting, binging on alcohol or drugs, overeating regularly to the point of causing pain – needs good therapy.

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