Whatever we human beings do for themselves no matter how strange hard to fathom or self defeating it seems-to others- are always trying to do some good.
I loathe the snide take of people harming themselves as a motive for their actions, or "self harm" as it fatuously calls itself. It's like a factory owner polluting the environment, the motive maybe profit or achievement, the pollution a side effect, not its purpose.
It's not actually needed to call in question the cost of our actions to ourselves and/or others. Its fine to say someone is harming themselves and they shouldn't, it's defining that as their ends which is cynical as it smacks of putting someone in their place, whether that helps or not. It's about putting the needs of the caller before the called, as with concern trolling.
Which is of course the source of this rubbish, other people claiming to act for others may well intend to do them harm as a defining cause for those actions, that's plausible. And that illustrates the phrase, to convince you that you are as much your own worst enemy as someone else who may well be, usually to compromise or impinge upon your will in some way. Persuading you to give it up to others who are more trustworthy and legitimately motivated than you, after all, they told you what you are for you.
Wasn't that nice of them?
This label has taken root whenever people think something shocking is going on real or imagined and people are behaving in ways that are causing them or others around them especially problems or just discomfort but they cannot just stop right it right then and there on demand.
They get this label and they have to 'confess' to it as they tend to be told portentously, this is the first step to dealing with their inconvenience and in their desperation to move on/ please others and/or themselves, they submit.
Any objective questions such as, how often can the urge to do certain things be stopped dead through direct force of will alone? Even if they are not seen as negative. I mean, if you study history for years see the world in terms of it, love it, can you stop thinking about it like that?
What's the difference between that and not be able to stop a negative behaviour dead? When does it cross the line from how the mind works to pathology? That's the problem with flogging the disease model to describe every inconvenience or imperfect situation, the danger of pathologizng humanness. It gets to the stage where normal existence feels like a sin or wrong in some way.
Because if the answer is hardly as by this point most people who could stop would have already, then classifying that inability as "self harm" assumes a deliberate willfulness that may not exist.
There's also the self serving instinct on the part of those who do not have the 'problem' seeking to use that to create a more positive view of themselves, and not having this particular issue makes them very clever and knowledgeable about how to end or reverse it. Knowing nothing equals knowledge.
Their brilliant insight is along the lines of;
Stop doing what you're doing and the urge to do it will go and you'll no longer be doing what you're doing. That's if it's even the cause of whatever they deem the 'abuse'.
They can't see any reason for any one to do that, because....they're not, this means not doing it nor wanting to is the same as feeling an overwhelming urge to do it yet not acting on it.
Absence of imperative is the same as ignoring an imperative.
The saints may sneakingly admire those they perceive as sinners but in their head, the former assume they are not because they fear the harm it may do them. But having unexpectedly positive feelings toward someone does not mean you want to do as they do, not seriously. It's an assumption that you need to be stopped by anything but absence of inclination.
Like those who claim they'd love to be unemployed and laze around. No they wouldn't or why aren't they? It's an expression of their frustration not a life plan.
Putting it down to a judicious assessment of risk because that makes people feel better though. Every cloud has a silver lining. Someone's problem is another one's opportunity for self esteem building, even if the scope is limited by the fact that you are already much better off than they.
We can see the outcome of this, that the obesity=death angle and the pretence that dietary finagling is the answer means that we fat people can easily be characterized as 'self-harmers' as we won't stop being fat.