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Dissociated people who feel largely emotionally numb are often in great pain of a sort.
Some of them will self-injure so as to generate a strong sensation that is capable of bringing them back to feeling something again. Not all numb dissociated people will use physical pain to "return"; some will use other strong sensations such as are afforded by drugs or sex, etc. Sometimes, people who self-harm are not skilled at using language to describe their inner experiences.
Dissociation is a mental and emotional state where the normal unitary experience of consciousness gets chopped up into disconnected parts.
So, a person who dissociates may not remember something that happened to them that was very painful because through the process of dissociation they were able to store that painful memory in a section of their mind that the rest of themselves doesn't know how to find.
So, a painful feeling associated with a traumatic memory might be detached from that memory such that the traumatized person remembers the event as though it happened in a movie; as though it happened to someone else and they were just watching it unfold, numb to the experience.
People mostly understand (I think) when someone becomes psychotic, gets stuck in a deep depression or has mood swings.
These are exaggerations of normal states of mind—everyone has felt blue at sometime or another—everyone has felt euphoric or energized at least once.
People sometimes harm themselves because by doing so, they are able to gain a subjective sense of control over chaotic internal emotions and thoughts.
Seizing this control involves shifting the focus of their attention away from something more troubling towards something less troubling.
The following list of 6 motivations seems to cover most of the common scenarios that people who self-injure describe.