Saturday, March 5, 2011

PUBLIC HEALTH: Self neglect and public health

Cathleen Drinan

It is easier to stop abuse of another than it is to stop someone from abusing him or herself. Neither one is easily resolved but they do share some commonalities. Laws allow the recipients of abuse to be assisted immediately by restraining orders and assisted in the long run, if necessary, with prosecution of the abuser. If the victims of abuse do not receive assistance and guidance with understanding the reasons for their silence and acceptance of the unacceptable and what they can do to prevent becoming a victim in the future, it can happen again. Also, their own misery can continue with self-imposed guilt that the abuse and the resulting consequences were somehow their fault.

People who mistreat themselves are similarly in need of counseling so that they can understand why and how they are perpetuating self-abuse, and they need assistance in learning what is automatic for most: loving one’s self. Eleanor Roosevelt is often quoted as saying, “No one can make you feel inferior without your own consent,” but I have not heard her thoughts on the ease or difficulty of acquiring self-confidence.

Getting help is there in many forms and is critical for how our society and country will function. If you wish to report or receive help for an elderly person, contact your local council on aging. If you wish to report or receive help for a young person, contact your local school. You can go to your local police station to report abuse of another. Finding help for self-abuse is more challenging, though. It is not always as obvious as cutting one’s own body. It might be more subtle and more secretive than that. Health agents are discovering instances of one form of self-abuse in housing circumstances..." More

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