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Nancy, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 746
Experience:  ABD for a PhD in Psychology, Psychotherapist for over 20 years
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Hello, someone I know sometimes slaps themselves--in times

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Hello, someone I know sometimes slaps themselves--in times of great frustration or self anger, but never in public or in front of anyone. Is there a psychiatric label for this? What is the best type of treatment?

Hi DW,


No, there is no official diagnosis for slapping oneself; although it occurs quite often. Typically, this is part of an inability to regulate, control, and effectively express anger or frustration, so the best form of treatment is to learn how to deal with frustration and anger through counseling.


Usually, when a person become frustrated or angry, they have thoughts, and feelings about it, and then do something (behavior) but with a hitter, they become overwhelmed because they weren't taught to properly deal with situations - they can't think things through effectively.


In counseling, someone comes in and tells about a frustrating situation. We talk them through it, pointing out triggers, other options and finding new ways of coping. Eventually, people learn new skills and don't hit themselves.


How else can I help?



Nancy and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for the information. The person is me, and I am seeing a counselor for general stress / anxiety. In brief, I'm going back to school for a career change but am still working at a job that is very awful for me.

For some reason I'm afraid to admit the slapping to her. I must be paranoid, but I'm kind of afraid being forced to take medication or worse, be institutionalized. I guess because it sounds like such an outrageous, crazy thing to do to oneself. She doesn't have a legal obligation to make me do anything against my will, right?

It doesn't happen very often, but did last weekend, to the point where I have marks on my face, and my jaw hurts. But tonight I talked to my counselor about my anger and frustration lately, so maybe she doesn't need to know about the hitting to help me. What do you think?

Hi DW,


You can't be forced to take medication. You also can't be institutionalized for this; to be held on a 5150, or under the Baker Act - you would have to be a danger to youself or others. Hitting youself may hurt, but it's along the same lines as cutting - it's not good, but it's not suicidal (the criteria for a 5150).


I think you *should* talk to her about it because if you had better coping skills, you wouldn't do this -- and being honest with her will give her the information she needs to help you (does that make sense). In other words- she can't give you the correct tools if she doesn't know what you are doing.


Remember, we, as therapists are non-judgemental - we really do want to help.


What you need for her to do... is walk you through it, and discuss what the triggers to the slapping are. Once you know the triggers, you can work through them. Then, you can find new ways of dealing with the triggers - and then you won't feel you need to hurt yourself - but will have good tools to do things differently.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thanks for your help and specific information. I was in the dark on this, and even consulted the DSM to try to understand this situation better (which wasn't much help). I appreciate your insight! Will do my best to follow through on your advice.
Thanks again,

You are very welcome! Keep one of the emails with my contact information and write back at any time.


Remember: progress, not perfection.


And know I will always walk you through a tough time- we can sit here and talk you through it. Okay?


I am always here for you!


Nancy :-)