1st Edition

Managing Self-Harm Psychological Perspectives

Edited By Anna Motz Copyright 2010
    248 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    248 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Self-harm often arises at moments of despair or emotional intensity, and its reasons are not necessarily available to the conscious mind.  Managing Self-Harm explores the meaning and impact of self-harm, and the sense in which it is a language of the body. It is designed to help clinicians, people who self-harm and their families and carers to understand its causes, meaning and treatment.

    Each chapter integrates theory with clinical illustration, enabling the direct experiences of those who self-harm to be heard and reflecting the populations that are most likely to self-harm. The contributors are drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, including clinical psychology, psychotherapy, group analysis and psychiatric nursing.

    Areas of discussion include:

    • self-harm and young people in foster care and residential settings
    • self-harm in women’s secure services
    • self-harm in people diagnosed with personality disorder

    This book does not offer a prescription for self-harm cessation but rather describes therapeutic approaches to working with self-harm, and outlines the complex, subtle and meaningful interactions between those who engage in self-harm and those who seek to understand it. With a specialist interest in women’s self-harm, Managing Self-Harm will be essential reading for all mental health professionals, including clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and social workers.

    Motz, Introduction. Part I: Understanding Self-Harm. Motz, Self-Harm as a Sign of Hope. Motz, Jones, The Paradox of Self-Harm. Part II: The Wider Context: Systemic Issues and Self-Harm. Scanlon, Adlam, "Why Do You Treat Me This Way?" Reciprocal Violence and the Mythology of Self-Harm. Norris, Maher, The Trap: Self-harm and Young People in Foster Care and Residential Settings. Grocutt, Self-Harm and Attachment. PART III: Women, Self-Harm and Treatment Issues. Kleinot, Speaking with the Body. Greenwood, Absences, Transitions and Endings: Threats to Successful Treatment. Lawday, Self-Harm in Women’s Secure Services: Reflections and Strategies for Treatment Design. Grocutt, Self-Harm Cessation in Secure Units. Motz, Conclusion: "If you prick us do we not bleed?" The Meaning and Management of Self-Harm.


    Anna Motz is a Consultant Clinical and Forensic Psychologist with Thames Valley Forensic Mental Health Services. She has particular interest in psychoanalytic approaches to understanding and treating violence and self-harm. She is the Past President of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy and the author of The Psychology of Female Violence: Crimes Against the Body (Second Edition, 2008).

    "Caring for people who harm themselves is hard work. This excellent collection of papers, ably edited by Anna Motz, will help those of us who do this difficult work to do it better." - Dr Gwen Adshead, Consultant Forensic Psychotherapist, Broadmoor Hospital, UK

    "This book is a welcome antidote to the powerful tendency to see self-harm only as a behaviour that must be stopped, usually because of the feelings the action evokes in others. The authors' exploration of the meaning and communication behind the act offers those that treat or care for people who self-harm a greater understanding on which to base their responses and build a therapeutic approach. The work is based on the words of those that self-harm, as well as theory, the clinical material of experienced clinicians, and research and should go a long way to improving the services offered to those that self-harm." - Dr Diana Menzies, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Henderson Hospital Therapeutic Community, UK

    "This is a book which challenges on a number of levels and is refreshing and interesting to read. With contributions from clinicians and practitioners, as well as those who self-harm, the reader is invited to see self-harming behaviour as a form of language, and to think carefully about its meaning. It is both compassionate and unflinching, offering suggestions about understanding behaviours which are difficult to experience, to witness and to read about... It does not shy away from difficult issues or complex theoretical discussion, yet it would be accessible to practitioners and managers in a variety of settings. I would also whole-heartedly recommend this book for students. It implicitly questions the often crass distinctions between the ‘medical’ and ‘social’ models offered up (particularly) to social work students. This collection also provides a sustained and illuminating application of psychodynamic and systemic theories, in context, unvarnished, and always thought-provoking." - Alison Higgs, Journal of Social Work Practice, Vol. 24 No. 2, June 2010

    "The book can help social workers understand the theoretical underpinnings of this complicated behavioral attack on the body, while also offering clinical cases to illuminate how multi-disciplinary professionals can and do respond in these situations." - Michelle R. Munson, Clinical Social Work Journal