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A Bright Red Scream: Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain Paperback – October 1, 1999
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"A bright red scream" is how one of the subjects Marilee Strong interviews in this chilling yet compassionate study of self-mutilation describes the sensation of intentionally inflicting pain upon oneself. It is a compulsion that, while shocking and bewildering to most people, affects 2 million or more Americans and countless others around the globe--one of whom, the late Princess Diana, also suffered from the eating disorders that characterize between 35 to 80 percent of all cutters. Rejecting the classic psychiatric wisdom that views self-mutilation as a species of suicidal behavior, Strong links the phenomenon instead to the will to live--often in the face of such overwhelming childhood abuse that the resulting dissociative behaviors are something akin to posttraumatic stress disorder. Strong touches on other issues as well: Why are most cutters women? And is the current fascination with tattooing and piercing, from its most extreme forms in the "alternative" culture to its growing mainstream acceptance, a sublimation of the cutters' instinct? Through interviews with more than 50 self-injurers, Strong tells the moving story not only of their rage and self-punishment, but also of the courageous journey towards reintegration. (The book also contains an introduction by psychiatrist Armando R. Favazza, author of Bodies Under Seige, one of the leading clinical experts on self-mutilation.) --Patrizia DiLucchio --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Strong's research into "cutters" combines journalistic passion with academic integrity. Through dozens of interviews conducted for a 1993 San Francisco Focus article, she explores the reasons that lead over two million Americans to injure themselves regularly and deliberately with such items as knives, razor blades and broken glass. Although most cutters are young women who have been emotionally, sexually, or physically abused as children, Strong's research shows that this specific type of self-harm also appears in other groups. Most interviewees here claim to use cutting to distance themselves from pain and rage, or to "feel something" after years of abuse have left them emotionally numb. The powerful first-person stories, in which the cutters describe their ritualistic methods and somewhat addictive cravings for seeing their own blood, highlight the problem and ultimately lead to understanding and sympathy for those who suffer from the disorder. (A foreword from University of Missouri-Columbia psychiatrist Armondo Favazza, author of Bodies Under Siege, discusses past difficulties in bringing the disorder to the public's attention.) In addition to presenting a psychological focus, Strong also investigates possible neurological and chemical changes that both abuse and cutting can cause. A brief foray into comparison with the American tattooing trend and scarification in other cultures proves to be the book's only weak point, drawing on hypotheses rather than concrete fact. The author recovers quickly, however, when she explores the comprehensive programs and treatments available to cutters. Riveting and dynamically written, this book is an important addition to psychological literature. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The book is illuminating, but this is not a topic any parent wants to read about out of necessity.