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...
- Brown, T., B., & Kimball, T. (2011). Cutting to live: A phenomenology of self harm. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. doi:10.1111/j.1752-0606.2011.00270.x.Google Scholar
- Cresswell, M., & karimova, Z. (2010). Self harm and medicines moral code: A historical perspective, 1950-2000. Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, 12(2), 158–175.Google Scholar
- Hall, B., Elliot, J., & Place, M. (2010). Self-harm through cutting: Evidence from a sample of schools in north east England. Pastoral Care in Education, 28(1), 33–43.Google Scholar
- Hawton, K., Harriss, L., & Rodham, K. (2010). How adolescents who cut themselves differ from those who take overdoses. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 19(6), 513–523.Google Scholar
- McAllister, M. M. (2001). In harm’s way: A post-modern narrative inquiry. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 8(5), P391.Google Scholar
- McRory, B. (2007). Mental Health: Self-harm. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants, 1(6), 261–263.Google Scholar
- Parker, I. (2006). Critical psychology and critical practice in Britain. Annual Review of Critical Psychology, 5, 89–100. Retrieved from www.discourseunit.com/arcp/5
- Redley, M. (2003). Towards a new perspective on deliberate self-harm in an area of multiple deprivation. Sociology of Health & Illness, 25, 348–372.Google Scholar
- Redley, M. (2010). The clinical assessment of patients admitted to hospital following an episode of self-harm: a qualitative study. Sociology of Health & Illness, 32, 470–485. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2009.01210.x.Google Scholar
- Ross, S., & Heath, N. (2003). Two models of adolescent self-mutilation. Suicide and Life Threatening Behaviour, 33(3), 277–287.Google Scholar
- Urquhart Law, G., Rostill-Brookes, H., & Goodman, D. (2009). Public stigma in health and non-healthcare students: Attributions, emotions and willingness to help with adolescent self-harm. International Journal of Nursing Science, 46, 108–119.Google Scholar
- Warm, A., Murray, C., & Fox, J. (2002). Who helps? Supporting people who self-harm. Journal of Mental Health, 11(2), 121–130.Google Scholar
- Yip, K. (2005). A multi-dimensional perspective of adolescents self-cutting. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 10(2), 80–86.Google Scholar