Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 63–72 | Cite as

Dissociation, Traumatic Attachments, and Self-Harm: Eating Disorders and Self-Mutilation

  • Sharon K. FarberEmail author
Original Article


Self-harm, such as eating disorders and self-mutilation, represents dissociated compensatory attempts to serve self-regulatory functions. Self-harm develops when the child who has become attached to those who have inflicted pain and suffering maintains that attachment by inflicting pain on himself. Brain imaging studies have found that the communication pattern between parent and child shapes the way the child’s attachment system adapts to experiences with the attachment figure, literally hardwiring the child’s brain. The good news is that a safe and secure attachment is very good medicine and can rewire the brain. An attachment-based multi-phase approach to treatment is presented.


Self-harm Attachment Dissociation Eating disorder Anorexia Bulimia Self-mutilation Pain Self-regulation Trauma 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hastings-on-HudsonUSA

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