I would like to know if I have a problem, I live in a very violent and verbally abusive family. I get the feeling that my brain, more specifically, my emotions work a little differently. Essentially I don’t react with emotion, instead I analyse my situation and filter what I understand. Please help, it’s really affecting my life as I do not feel in tune with my emotions.

What you are describing is a common reaction in people who have experienced trauma. Our bodies and brains have evolved to help us when we experience a stressful or traumatic event. When we encounter a stressful event our brain sends a signal which tells our nervous system to make changes with our breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessels and lungs in preparation for reacting to the situation. Generally, we react in three main ways: Fight, flight or freeze. You may know people who lash out with their words or fists when threatened this is the fight response kicking in. Running away or avoiding an event that is particularly scary or sad is the flight response. Finally, the most common response is the freeze response. This can involve tonic immobility where you literally cannot move or talk but more commonly involves a less extensive shut down. In your situation we would wonder if the process you are describing may be either a freeze or avoidance response. This process is very helpful in traumatic situations as it can protect you during the experience, however if it becomes a pattern or happens at times you need to feel emotions it becomes an unhelpful response.

I have a history of self-harm. When I self-harm I have my reasons. I have been clean for a few weeks. Here is my problem, whenever I see people with scratches say from a cat or a cut or injury, I have the need to copy that injury. Why is this?

Self-harm is linked to suicidal behavior, so if you are using self-harm to manage your emotions it is important to seek support and help to decrease self-harm behaviours and to increase your distress tolerance and emotion regulation skills. Self-harm is not a good long-term strategy to cope with stress as it does physical damage to your body. It also does not give you the opportunity to learn other ways to cope with emotional pain or stress. Seeing a psychologist can help you identify the triggers for self-harm and develop other strategies to use if you feel the need to self-harm.