We are great apes, nothing less and nothing more. We are animals, existing purely to recreate ourselves and die. Our most powerful instinct is to survive, however possible. We will do anything to exist, and continue to exist.

Self-hatred and self-harm in various guises are two of the most common disorders among young people. I know this for a fact, a psychiatrist told me so. Self-hatred and self-harm are seen as similar conditions, because self-harm is a way of physically destroying the body and object of hatred.

Here, I'm going to point out that by self-harm, I mean the whole spectrum of kinds, ranging from psychosomatic disease, anorexia, self-mutilation, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, drug abuse and so forth. There are an almost unlimited number of ways to hurt oneself.

I don't know if it possible to hate yourself, but the basic proof appears to lie in the fact that people are willing to harm themselves so much, even to the point of death. Anorexia is said to spring from self-hating thoughts, 'fat' associated with 'disgusting'. Self-mutilation would seem to be on the same basis. (Although in most cases of self-mutilators, there is evidence that they have been abused at some point during their lives.)

But most of the self-harmers I have spoken to, have told me they hurt themselves for one main reason – to survive. While suicide and self-mutilation seem inexorably linked, for many self-mutilation is the only way they find they can stay alive. They hurt themselves to get rid of their pain.

So if these people are harming themselves because it is the only way, as they see it, to stay alive, then how can they hate themselves? We exist simply to survive – many self-harmers seem to hurt themselves to help them continue with their most basic instinct, to stay alive.

Anorexics and possibly bulimics (although bulimia on its own is probably more closely linked with self-mutilation than with anorexia) both seem to be slightly different. While self-mutilation looks like a death wish, the majority of self-mutilators don't actually die from their injuries. Anorexia is the killer. But anorexics feel they are making positive changes to themselves, instead of staying in their loathed 'fat' state, they work desperately to be thin, which they may perceive as happiness. This is a positive step, because by staying 'fat' they hate their perception of themselves, and by getting thinner they think they will come to like themselves.

So, if none of these people hate themselves, then does anyone? While still infused with our desperate basic instinct to survive, we won't try to stop surviving. In fact, as self-harm shows, we will think up a wide variety of ways to make our lives bearable to us.

Suicide and suicidal people are another category. There's a huge amount of conceptions about suicide – that it's selfish, that it's a cop-out, that it's a vile way of getting rid of the gift of life, and so on. But isn't suicide taking the ultimate control over your body? I don't think one necessarily shuts off the desperate plea of survival. If life is so totally unbearable that one must destroy oneself, then isn't suicide just taking life to another level? If living is completely unbearable, then you are not surviving, you're failing. By cutting yourself out of life, then you are once again making existence bearable, even though you're no longer alive. By dying, you are listening to your survival instinct, and doing the only thing you can think of to continue to function. Of course, death isn't functioning, but we forget that death is another natural step; us with our breathing machines and drugs are too afraid of this idea. Suicide is another way of getting your bad genes out of the food chain, by destroying your own feelings you make it easier for others around you to survive.

So if suicidal people don't hate themselves then who does? I think self-hatred must be completely shutting off the survival instinct, shutting of all reasons to exist. To do that, I think a person must completely hate their body and every aspect of themselves. Hatred is dull but powerful. Anxiety and fear and despair are all very active feelings, they create ideas and desperate hopes and desires. Hate is dull and sickening. While anxiety might make a person continually active and despair would put them in state of fear, both fuel a desire to continue existing bearably. Hate is a dull emotion. Hatred over something you can't get revenge over, hatred when it is just a dull permanent feeling, this self-hatred is silent and deadly. It clogs brain and body until there is nothing left, all senses are dull, all thought silent.

Self hatred can only exist when all will to live is gone. It can only exist, too, when all will to die is gone, and there is nothing left but hatred. Self-harm is another desperate attempt to survive. Self-hatred creates an apathy so great it is impossible to even want to die.