GENERICO.ruMedicineAuto-aggression: what it is, how to identify and treat it, advice from doctors

Auto-aggression: what it is, how to identify and treat it, advice from doctors


  • Auto-aggression
  • Causes in adults
  • Types and forms
  • Symptoms and signs
  • Complications
  • What is the difference from self-harm
  • Features of auto-aggression in children and adolescents
  • Diagnostics
  • Which doctor to contact
  • Treatment
  • Forecast and prevention of auto-aggression

Modern psychology identifies several forms of destructive (destructive) behavior. Auto-aggression is one of the most common, and the tendency to harm oneself can manifest itself in both a child and an adult. What is it, what types does it take, what is its treatment and prevention – in the material .


Translated from Latin, auto-aggression can be defined as “an attack on oneself.” Today, this term denotes such behavior of a person in which he (consciously or unconsciously) seeks to cause harm to his own body or the organism as a whole.

At the same time, auto-aggression is often perceived as a kind of protective mechanism that occurs in response to severe stress. That is, initially the target for negative emotions is some external object (for example, another person). But if it is not possible to take out the accumulated anger and irritation at the address (since in the end there is a risk of losing a job, destroying family relationships, and so on), then the aggression is directed towards oneself.

Causes in adults

A tendency to self-aggression may be a consequence of a strong traumatic situation that a person had to endure in the past. This may be a difficult experience associated with violence (both psychological and physical), stressful situations (divorce, death of a loved one) and other reasons.

It is believed that the tendency to self-destruction is often a consequence of difficult relationships within the family. If a child grew up in a tense, negative environment, parents were stingy in showing love and care, often scolded, criticized, punished, then already in adulthood a person may suffer from low self-esteem and demonstrate auto-aggressive behavior.

“Sometimes auto-aggression arises out of an unhealthy need to punish oneself for some offense, just as a person was previously punished by significant adults,” says Liliya Shuvalova, psychologist, teacher at the Department of Cybersports at Synergy University.
Sometimes the causes of auto-aggression are biological in nature, when destructive behavior is caused by mental illness or disorders of the brain. Mental characteristics also influence how prone each individual person is to display aggression towards himself.

Types and forms

Based on how auto-aggression is expressed in humans, we can distinguish four main types of it. First of all, it is physical, which manifests itself in self-injury and mutilation. Spiritualautoaggression is associated with suicidal thoughts and the formation of various types of addictions, mental(a person blames himself for everything, constantly humiliates and insults himself) and social(when a citizen demonstratively violates all accepted norms of behavior in society, strives to completely separate from it and become an outcast).

At the same time, auto-aggression can be expressed not only in the purposeful infliction of scars, cuts and other damage. It can take various forms, each of which (albeit to varying degrees) poses a real danger to human life and health. The most common among them:
– various types of addictions that in one way or another cause harm to the body (alcoholism, drug addiction, etc.);
– passion for extreme sports, risky behavior;
– disordered eating habits (for example, anorexia, bulimia, etc. .);

– a constant desire to improve or correct one’s own body, remake one’s appearance, etc.

“Forms of auto-aggression also include deviant behavior (vagrancy, pyromania, kleptomania), sexual disorders (excessive promiscuity or, on the contrary, complete refusal) ”, – adds Liliya Shuvalova.

Symptoms and signs

Various symptoms may indicate that a person is suffering from autoaggression. For example, a tendency to self-harm can manifest itself not only in scars or numerous punctures, but also in an obsessive desire to squeeze pimples on the skin, constantly tear off the scab from a wound, thereby preventing them from healing, and so on.
Even workaholism in In some cases, it may be considered a manifestation of auto-aggression if the consequences of work enthusiasm cause harm to the body of the worker himself.


The consequences of auto-aggression can be very serious. Passion for extreme sports often leads to serious injuries, drug addiction or alcoholism have their own list of dangerous diseases that accompany them, and constant violation of the integrity of the skin can result in infection in the wounds.

Against the background of auto-aggression, severe mental illnesses can develop, such as such as depression, as well as neurotic and obsessive states. In addition, in rare cases, a person may also experience delusional ideas.
“Over time, depressive episodes become protracted, which leads to psychosis-like states, which are impossible to cope with without the help of specialists,” says psychologist Liliya Shuvalova.
But, of course, the most terrible complication of auto-aggression is suicidal behavior, when a person is ready to voluntarily give up your life.

< h3 id="1915608826-6">What is the difference from self-harm

There is a special term that denotes a person’s desire to constantly inflict various physical injuries on himself (cuts, scars, piercings and tattoos). This behavior is called “self-harm”, in essence it is one of the forms of manifestation of auto-aggression.

Features of auto-aggression in children and adolescents

Manifestations of auto-aggression are often observed in young children. The baby may suddenly hit himself, deliberately crash into an obstacle, and leave bites and scratches on his body. Such behavior in most cases is associated with strong emotions.

Very often children copy the behavior of their parents; if significant adults are prone to destructive behavior, then there is a high probability that their child will also show signs of auto-aggression.
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Often auto-aggression in children and adolescents is demonstrative in nature. Her goal in this case is to attract attention or achieve what she wants (if she can’t get it in any other way).
“Sometimes auto-aggressive behavior (both in children and adults) is nothing more than ordinary manipulation,” notes psychologist Inna Reiner. – A person with real auto-aggression, especially complicated by the desire to commit suicide, will never announce this.”


Since auto-aggression is fraught with serious consequences for life and human health, its manifestations cannot be ignored. If characteristic symptoms are detected, it is recommended to consult a specialist as soon as possible.

Which doctor to contact

“The problem of auto-aggressive behavior requires complex diagnosis and attention not only from neurologists, psychologists and psychiatrists, but also from representatives of related specialties – psychoneurologists, neurorehabilitation specialists,” says Liliya Shuvalova.

The first step is to collect anamnesis, including a conversation with the patient, based on the results of which the doctor can find out which factors and situations are the most traumatic, what underlies dangerous behavior, whether manifestations of auto-aggression are related to existing mental disorders, and so on.
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“Along with collecting an anamnesis, an important aspect for assessing the condition are objective diagnostic methods, for example, MRI of the brain, an electroencephalogram (at least overnight EEG monitoring), and in rare cases, genetic tests are also taken,” adds Liliya Shuvalova. “These diagnostic methods are necessary to more accurately establish a diagnosis and exclude organic lesions of the human nervous system, which can be visualized as auto-aggressive behavior.”
The patient can also be offered a number of tests and surveys, based on the results of which the specialist will be able to get an idea of ​​the person’s personality in general.


As a rule, treatment of patients with auto-aggression is based not only on the use of appropriate medications (for example, antidepressants, which can alleviate the current condition so that it does not pose a danger). Working with a psychologist and psychotherapist (individual or as part of a group) plays an important role.

“At such sessions, a person discovers situations that have distorted his life path and perception of himself, removes the negative influence of destructive attitudes, transforms the image of himself and his future,” says Liliya Shuvalova. – In cases where auto-aggressive behavior is a consequence of neurological deficits, neurorehabilitation methods are used to compensate for the disease and alleviate the condition. Of course, the most effective strategy in the treatment of auto-aggressive forms of behavior is complex work on the part of several specialists, aimed at both pharmacological support and psychological support and neurorehabilitation of existing deficits.”
There is no universal scheme for the treatment of auto-aggression; individual characteristics of a person, and therefore methods and approaches are selected separately for each patient.

Prognosis and prevention of auto-aggression

The less time passes between detecting the first symptoms of auto-aggression and seeking help from a qualified specialist, the greater the patient’s chances of returning to normal life in the near future. And, accordingly, avoid severe complications of this dangerous condition.

One of the measures to prevent such destructive behavior is to combat stress and reduce the number of situations that cause a strong surge of bright negative emotions in a person. It is very important from a young age to teach a child to react correctly to conflict, not to be afraid to express negativity (and to do this as peacefully as possible, for example, through physical activity, sports).
Harmonious relationships in the family play an important role so that the child can surrounded by family members felt safe, and home was perceived as a reliable and protected place.
“Recognition of the right of a person, even a small one, to the world of his own subjective experiences, minimization of devaluing value judgments and the formation of a healthy and safe microclimate in a family where there is no places for hidden grievances, helps reduce the risks of auto-aggressive forms of behavior. Any emotion repressed from consciousness, devalued by significant people, will definitely find its way out, but in the ugliest form, which we often observe in people suffering from auto-aggression,” says psychologist Liliya Shuvalova.


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