Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Teo


Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5583-7_514


Understanding why people self-harm is a complex process. A range of psychological models exist which help to clarify why some individuals self-harm, and for those seeking help these models are used to devise and implement psychologist-selected treatment strategies. Despite the availability of different psychological models, the experience of people who self-harm is often misunderstood, misrepresented, and disempowering. An alternative approach to understanding self-harm would be to do as critical psychologists strive and see self-harm as a multidimensional, transdisciplinary, complex human behavior (Parker, 2006). What follows is a brief introduction to key debates, namely, the diagnosis, practice, and attitudes, held about self-harm.


Traditionally, psychology describes self-harm as a direct behavior which causes harm to body tissue, regardless of whether the individual has suicidal intent. Types of self-harm can include poisoning, overdosing, cutting, burning...

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Online Resources

  1. Royal College of Psychiatrists. www.rcpsych.ac.uk
  2. Mind – Mental Health Charity. www.mind.org.uk
  3. American Psychological Association. www.apa.org

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Life SciencesNorthumbria UniversityNewcastleUK