Monday, February 21, 2011

Normalization can be a Dangerous Thing

I recently came across an article in the New York Times discussing the rising occurrence of self-injury. The article states that as many as one in five men and women have engaged in an act of nonsuicidal self-injury at least once. That is not even the disturbing part.

The worst part of this is that individuals are taking videos of themselves performing these self-harming acts and posting them on YouTube. Unfortunately, these videos are surprisingly popular with many of them rated positively and having been favorited over 12,000 times. One of the most alarming things that may come from this increase in self-harm videos available on YouTube is the possibility that the acts committed in the videos becomes normalized and that society develops a callous in its view of these actions.

What are we to do in the face of this? As Christian counselors we are going to be in a position where we will have to deal with this topic or one similar to it eventually. Maybe some of us already have. Do we allow the norms of society to be shifted so that these actions are considered acceptable? Absolutely not.

When thinking about this, it is important that we remember where what we view as acceptable stems from. Part of it may be from society and the things we have been taught by it. However not all of that is necessarily wrong. We need to view the things that we are taught through a biblical light. If something that is becoming normal does not align with what Scripture tells us is right, like self-mutilation (1 Cor. 6:19), it is time for us to take a critical view of the things we accept as right and true from society before we develop callouses that interfere with our ability to judge biblically.

1 comment:

  1. I think when society begins to nod its head at its members' self-destruction it reflects something akin to a desperate need for a sense of awareness and control over the horrific, the unimaginable. So while the media is in it for shock value and subsequent revenue, the motives of the people inflicting this kind of pain on themselves varies across the spectrum from mastery of pain (or even pleasure from pain) to trying to elicit emotion from physical pain because one feels emotionally dead and they just want to feel something, anything, to kids who just like the attention it draws. I've even read of self-mutilation as a kind of self-inflicted atonement for perceived shortcomings, imperfections or failures. It is alarming. And sad. Regardless of the motivation to self-mutilate, one does wonder at the degree of emotional turmoil and/or confusion that must underlie it.


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