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Responses to Self Harm: An Historical Analysis of Medical, Religious, Military and Psychological Perspectives
Dale, Leigh
McFarland / Softcover / 2015-04-01 / 0786496754
Self Harm / History
price: $59.95 (may be subject to change)
276 pages
Not in stock - available within 4 weeks.

Self harm is generally regarded as a modern epidemic, associated especially with young women. But references to self harm are found in the poetry of ancient Rome, the drama of ancient Greece and early Christian texts, including the Bible.

Studied by criminologists, doctors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and sociologists, the actions of those who harm themselves are often alienating and bewildering. This book provides a historical and conceptual roadmap for understanding self harm across a range of times and places: in modern high schools and in modern warfare; in traditional religious practices and in avant-garde performance art. Describing the diversity of self harm as well as responses to it, this book challenges the understanding of it as a single behavior associated with a specific age group, gender or cultural identity.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Preface 1

Sources 8

Introduction 11

Chapter 1. Classical and Christian Stories of Self Harm 19

Ethnographies of the Galli 21

Mythographies of Attis 28

Psychoanalysis and the Uses of Attis 37

Self Harm and Religious Expression 40

Modern Medicine and the Uses of Myth 49

Spectre and Spectacle: Self Harm as Performance 57

Chapter 2. Delicate Structures? Case Studies of Self Harm 62

Self Enucleation and Ingestion of Needles 64

Malingering Versus Mental Illness: Respecting Patients? 67

The Deserving Patient 73

The Undeserving Patient 79

Diagnosing and Disclosing Self Harm: Dermatology 84

Dermatology and the “mysterious mental element” 88

Responding to Self Harm 94

Demonizing Self Harm: Beverley Allitt and After 98

Chapter 3. Self Harm as Malingering: Criminology and Military Medicine 103

Militant Medicine: Self Harm as Crime 106

Self Harm in Prison 112

Doctors Resisting? 117

The First World War 119

The Secret Battle 127

Conclusions 139

Chapter 4. The Alien Self: Psychiatry and Psychology 143

Criminology Finds the Psyche 144

Pierre Janet 148

The Unknown Ancestor: Dabrowski 154

Freud and His Followers: Brunswick, Lewis and Greenacre 156

Karl Menninger and Man Against Himself 159

Freud in Practice: Case Reports 162

Theorizing Self Harm: Otto Fenichel 165

Challenging Freud: Horney on Feminine Masochism 168

Reviving Feminine Masochism 173

Ferenczi and His Followers 177

Reflections: Reading Self Harm 187

The Impact of Self Harm 190

Behaviorism 199

Speculations on Siblings, Speech and Controlled ­Re-Enactment 204

The Language of Self Harm: Speech and Controlled

Re-Enactment 207

Researching Self Harm 214

Chapter Notes 221

Bibliography 235

Index 259

About the Author:

Leigh Dale is professor of English at the University of Wollongong, Australia, and editor of the journal Australian Literary Studies and has published on Australian and postcolonial literatures.


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