"Contemporary Issues in Psychology

Must respond to the 3 perspectives below with a minimum 250 words each. One (1) reference each optional.

PERSPECTIVE #1: As I searched for articles pertaining to “Contemporary Issues in Psychology”, I came across the topic of self-injurious behaviors (SIB) amongst adolescents and teens. This is an issue of particular interest to me considering my previous employment allowed me to work closely with adolescents who engaged in SIB on a frequent basis. These young people, during the time I worked with them, were admitted to a psychiatric facility which housed a residential program and an acute hospital, both for children.  Usually the children I encountered had suffered some form of abuse, neglect, bullying, etc. which led them to engage in SIB. One of the most disturbing situations I was privy to was a young man who had attempted suicide by cutting his own throat. He had a prior history of SIB, which later progressed to him actually attempting suicide.

During my research of the topic, I came across an article in the APUS Library that discussed the implicit attitudes of adolescents who attempted suicide versus those who engaged in non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). NSSI is defined as “direct and deliberate destruction of body tissue in the absence of any observable intent to die”. The article noted that suicide attempts and NSSI are “severely impairing health problems affecting adolescents”. The article pretty much summed up by stating that just because an adolescent who has engaged in NSSI and does not have a prior history of suicide attempt(s), does not mean the NSSI behavior should be taken lightly or dismissed as “not serious”. It is known that NSSI could make a young person more susceptible to attempting suicide at some point in their life.

Another article I found, via my web-search, noted that NSSI occurs in anywhere from 8- 61% of teenagers. According to the article, the 8% is from the community and the higher end of the spectrum is from persons seeking mental health treatment. The average age of onset for self-injury is 14 and 15 years of age, with girls engaging in the behavior more than boys. However, the frequency becomes more equal in later adolescence. The question of focus is, why do adolescence self-injure? This behavior can be the result of multiple things for instance, to get attention, a cry for help or to deal with negative emotions when they do not know how to cope in a more appropriate manner. It is important that as parents and concerned family/friends, that we approach the topic (if discovered) in a non-judgmental, yet curious manner and be sure to let the person know that you are there for them to get them the professional help they need. The article states that over 90% of teenagers that self-injure meet the criteria for one or more psychiatric diagnosis such as depression, anxiety disorder, or conduct disorder. The behavior also increases the risk for suicide attempt and completing suicide.

Again, this topic was important to me because I have seen it firsthand in working with youth who engage in the behaviors. This behavior should be a warning for the devastation that may result later in the young person’s life, if left untreated and/or disregarded as just attention seeking. I am passionate about helping people with all types of disabilities (whether it be mental, intellectual or otherwise), however working with adolescents and teens has always been my passion. Currently, I am grounded in the work that I do but if I were to pursue the field of psychology further,  would consider the counseling sub-specialty with a focus on children. (Brandi)

 

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