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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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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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on August 25, 2002
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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on October 20, 1999
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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on December 7, 1999
I was hospitalized for self injuring and the social workers got me into a program called SAFE Alternatives, so I read the book. The book let self injurers know that we are not alone. This book talked about the SAFE program and how they help you to find tools(5 Alternatives) to use to help fight the urges. I never fully understood why I injured myself until I read this book. I don't have to feel ashamed when someone sees my arms and asks what I have done. You never know who could be a self-injurer until they let you know. I was injuring for nine years and noone knew until a year before I went to SAFE. I went in March 1999 and it was the best decision I could ever had made. Thank you Karen, Wendy, and staff.
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on December 11, 1999
Bodily Harm is a very comprehensive book that actually has some wonderful thoughts on self harm. It gives excellent concrete ways in which to stop self harm. It reaches the real reasons for this behavior, yet teaches that its an inappropriate coping skill. Sometimes those with this issue don't realize that self injury can result in death. Great resources made available for a little addressed disorder. I especially liked the fact that the authors could be so removed and authoritarian yet you could tell in everything they did that they cared.
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on June 23, 2000
I have to say the book is great! 5 stars! But, the actual program is better. I went to SAFE and I have to say that it changed my life, HONESTLY! I read a lot of bad reviews, and some good ones. The bad ones seem to be from people who didn't know what the program was about! Karen and Wendy are the greatest. People say that they make it sound like a cure to come to the program. Well, I didn't get that from their writing, But I know it was a cure for me and MANY others! Please remember that these women devolped this program, which helps thousands of people! Some say they are given too much creit, I say they are not given enough! They are both so kind, so are the rest of the staff their! But Karen and Wendy care so deeply for their clients. No words I can express now will ever compare to that wonderful program. But, please, if you have questions or comments for me, Please, E-mail me. I will be happy to talk to you about it. Thank you for listening to me!
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on August 7, 1999
What can I say about this awesome book that saved my life? I was browsing in the bookstore one day and I noticed a book on self-injury: Bodily Harm. Having been a self-injurer for a long time I thumbed through it to see if this book could offer me anything. The book was absolutely amazing. It explores the types of people who self-injure, the reasonings behind the self-injury and it contains an explanation of the S.A.F.E. (Self Abuse Finally Ends) Program TM. Founded by Karen Conterio in 1985 S.A.F.E. offers hope for self-injurers. After being hospitalized too many times, and after years of therapy, I decided to attend the S.A.F.E. Program in Chicago. There is no review that can communicate how S.A.F.E saved my life. I am now living as a whole person, without self-injury, for the first time in my life. I owe Karen and Wendy my life. I HIGHLY recommend this book not only to self-injurers but to their families and friends as well. I even more strongly recommend attending the S.A.F.E. Program. Thank you Karen and Wendy - I love you both!
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on July 23, 1999
I myself have attended the S.A.F.E program and was excited to hear that Karen and Wendy had written this book. I was sincerely hoping that there were some questions answered in there that were dodged while I was in treatment there. The first and most major was the question of success rates of the program. This question was asked of them many times and went unanswered.
I do know that there are clients/patients that go away from there helped, at the same time I've seen many go away more confused and self-injurious. Though this book seems to be well written in form and grammar, the content seems to fit an agenda. My question is whether that agenda is in the interest of finances or the people who suffer from this disorder. It just seemed like a well planned,gramatically correct visitors brochure.
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on June 30, 2000
I went to the SAFE program in 1998 and I have been injury free since then. The program changed my life and I originally read the book because I'm one of the case studies. Now I reread it when I'm feeling bad and the part that helps me the most is the reasons that people self injure and how that reasoning is flawed and destructive. I would especially recommend the book for family members and friends of self injurers because it explains a lot and takes away some of mystery around why people engage in these behaviors.
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