Thursday, October 22, 2015

Self Harm

Is something wrong, ethically, with self harm? You hear people say things like "do whatever you want, as long as you don't hurt anybody else." But, what if the person you are hurting is yourself? Is that ethically neutral? If you think so, your moral focus is on your relations to others.

In real life, self harm typically does harm others, too, at least indirectly.

But is that the reason self harm is wrong, or is it just one reason self harm is wrong?

Or you can stand this on its head, and argue that the reason harming others is wrong, is that it harms you. You should be forming your self into a person who deals with others on a win/win basis. That is the kind of person who thrives and is happy.

Out in the real world ethical map
there's lots of value overlap.

1 comment:

Charlie McDanger said...

Some scattered thoughts will follow. It's occurred to me lately that much of human interaction and the desire for companionship is driven by a net deficit in happiness; thus rather than share happiness, people dump their miseries on each other.

The pop sentiments of "That's what friends are for" and "We all need somebody to lean on" capture it well, and I think are to some degree toxic.

Despite the common perception of loneliness causing unhappiness, I'd argue the causal relationship is quite the reverse. Happy people are magnetic, and also can enjoy solitude to the degree that they choose it.

As to self-harm, I have the impolite position that suicide is unfairly demonized. Given that much unhappiness is biochemical rather than circumstantial, I think it's unethical to expect an individual to bear his miseries for the comfort of others. I found "Savage God" by A. Alvarez to be excellent and enlightening on the topic.