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Bodily Harm: The Breakthrough Healing Program For Self-Injurers Paperback – October 13, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Operating a clinic in the Chicago area since 1985, Conterio and Lader have developed a program for people who cut, burn and otherwise mutilate themselves. This behavior, in their view, is neither a disease nor an addiction, but rather "a matter of choice... a mechanism to cope with stress, relieve inexpressible feelings, and gain attention." The authors take this view not to blame the afflicted, but to emphasize that, in their "S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives" program, patients can and do "learn to make a different choice." This tack differs somewhat from those of some other recent books on the subjectAfor example, Steven Levenkron's Cutting (Forecasts, April 20)Ain rejecting the disease model that establishes self-injury as a disorder akin to obsessive-compulsive disorder or alcoholism. The line Conterio and Lader draw is a fine one, though, as they refer to self-injury as a "compulsion," and as the questions they pose to identify a self-injurer includes such phrases as "compulsively drawn," "get a 'high'" and "consume your thoughts." The authors describe an impressive treatment program, using a "toolbox" consisting of psychotherapy, a No-Harm Contract, an Impulse Control Log, Five Alternatives and many writing assignments. In a four-week program with follow-up care, they teach patients self-acceptance and verbal expression as a healthier alternative to self-injury. This is a thorough and helpful guide for patient, loved ones and therapists alike. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Karen Conterio is the Administrative Director of S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives. The program was founded by Conterio in 1984 as the first outpatient support group for those who engage in repetitive self-harm behavior. In 1985, she teamed with Wendy Lader, Ph.D., to offer the first structured inpatient program. Wendy Lader, Ph.D., is Clinical Director of the S.A.F.E. Alternatives program. She also serves as a consultant to the Women's Services at the Loop YWCA in Chicago. Both authors live in Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; 1st edition (October 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786885041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786885046
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer K. Paweleck-Bellingrodt, Psy.D. on February 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is a thought-provoking book about self-injury and healing. the book is well-written and very descriptive. many narratives are used in the text, and this helps to create a greater understanding of individual experiences and struggles. this is important because each of us experiences things in our own way. that perception then becomes reality for us. once that happens, we find ways to deal with the emotional intensity that this can create. for many, the coping mechanism of choice is self-injury. self-injury is very difficult for many people to understand--even those who self-mutilate often come to treatment without a real understanding of why they harm themselves. once you understand the chain of events, you can start to better understand the compulsive nature of this behavior, the way in which the self-injurer sees self-harm as the only alternative, the only way to obtain some relief from the present experience. one caveat--i disagree with the authors' depiction of self-mutilation as NOT a manifestation of addiction. in my work with patients who self-injure, it has become very clear to me that this behavior feels very compulsive and can become habitual. also, in line with the AA model of treating addiction, patients most often do better when they recognize the power that self-injury has over them and start to explore the origins of their psychological pain in an attempt to stop expressing this pain through self-harm. information on the SAFE Alternatives program is also very helpful. statistics regarding success and healing are very encouraging, and these authors clearly have a good thing going. another excellent read is marilee strong's book *a bright red scream: self-mutilation and the language of pain.*
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Taylor ( on July 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Having recently gone through the SAFE Alternatives program myself, I can say that this book follows closely the inpatient treatment program and ideas, and would probably be very useful to people who cannot afford the program or who have been denied access to it for whatever reason. I agree with other reviewers who say that the program is presented as a "cure," which I don't quite think it is. What I do think it is, and what this book is, is a wonderful starting point on the road to real self-understanding and ending of self-injury. It's not a cure-all, and it's not guaranteed. I have injured since completing the program, but I have done so far less frequently and far less severely. The urges are less pronounced and I have more tools with which to deal with them. I recommend this book especially to family member of self-injurers as a way to understand the phenomenon, and also to people who are themselves injurers, because it is far less triggering than other books on the same subject.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Okay, I know that Wendy and Karen would both back me up in saying that this program is by no means a cure. And as for the expense, well public aide in Illinois will foot the entire bill and the people i've seen go through it don't have much money and are solely dependent upon a mixture of insurance, public aide, and social security. SAFE isn't a cure. It just lays down the tools you can use to get better, and no other program that I've been in has done that. None but SAFE have given me any help in controling the impulses, well outside of the lovely rubber band. Have they stabilized me, yes, but it didn't actually help me. The bodily harm book lays out tools that therapists can use in the outpatient realm to help patients. Impulse control logs, alternatives, not using the "fake injury" alternatives; all of these help. Bodily Harm even says that they believe that most self-injurers can recover in an outpatient setting. And PTSD can have a lot to do with self-injury, but I know that I don't have it and I self-injured for 8 years. Okay, this has turned into a huge defense thing and not a review- but still. I will forever love and charish what SAFE gave me, because it gave me back myself- nothing more or less. And, inside the bodily harm book they do have what the success rate is, if you're willing to look for it. I believe it's like 3/4ths, but I may be wrong. If any therapist really wants to know how they can help self-injurers I advise you to call up the SAFE program and ask if you can observe for a week... and this will be the end of my rave and rant.
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I'm sorry as someone working in the social services area working with kids many of whom are self-injurers, I just think we're in the very, very early stage of understanding self-injurers and how to identify modalities that will produce long term change. I find this book interesting and useful, but I'm a little uneasy that almost all of the people who seem to rave about it are actually people who have been able to afford their expensive program (and I'm not knocking the fact that inpatient programs do tend to be expensive). I don't question that they are very helpful to many people, but none of my clients could ever dream of affording the "only treatment that works." I've never heard of professionals making such claims for any of the other posttraumatic stress disorders, which is what I think we're dealing with here. None of the world renowned experts in PTSD believe that there are easy or single "cures" that are effective for a high percentage of people, and that is what makes me skeptical about the claims here. And unfortunately, professionals who want to make claims about treatment modalities, usually have to do controlled research tovalidate the efficacy of their methods. The SAFE people have never done that. That's the difference between hype and hope. I can't help but notice that many of these "reviews" sound like ads for the SAFE program, although I don't doubt the enthusiasm of those who have been helped. My point is that there are many, many of us who are working in the very challenging area of providing support, understanding, encouragement and tools for growth for self-injurers. If there were easy answers that worked for everybody, we would see a study that demonstrated that.
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