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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers The Question Of "Why" From Many Angles
Now in my mid-30's, I bought this book after seeing the movie Secretary and recognizing myself as a teen in the main character of the movie. Although, in my case, I overcame my urges to self-injure (in ways other than cutting, which this book addresses) on my own and through the process of maturation and some very focused self-examination in my 20's, I still found myself...
Published on Dec 28 2003 by Renee McElwee

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3.0 out of 5 stars i recommend it to people who want to understand SI
This book was a good read because it tells stories of SI and explains why people may do it, and gives lots of refrences to get help. If you SI i think the stories might help you understand it, but the authors explanation for SI is very intresting too.
Published on June 20 2004 by Jessica Showalter


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers The Question Of "Why" From Many Angles, Dec 28 2003
By 
Renee McElwee "naecya" (San Pedro, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Now in my mid-30's, I bought this book after seeing the movie Secretary and recognizing myself as a teen in the main character of the movie. Although, in my case, I overcame my urges to self-injure (in ways other than cutting, which this book addresses) on my own and through the process of maturation and some very focused self-examination in my 20's, I still found myself fascinated as to why I, or any person, would resort to self-mutilation as a way to feel relief and a temporary sense of peace since the act and the resulting feelings seem so incredibly incongruent. This book took me back and allowed me to see and understand myself in ways I never expected and far beyond what I had already ascertained self-mutilation was about based on my own self-understanding. It also allowed me to see where I still lean toward the behavior in subtle, almost undetectable ways even though I have been under the impression for over 15 years that I no longer "act out" or would be considered a self-mutilator.
The book is extremely well written and researched and the case studies sited enable the reader to identify - whether you are or were a self-injurer yourself or know someone who is. The author suggests many reasons why self-mutilators do what they do, why and how this gamut of behaviors addresses crucial needs they have and why it isn't as easy to refrain from when a loved one who doesn't really understand says, "Stop that!" Strong explains the behavior from psychological, emotional, spiritual, physical, chemical, environmental and medical perspectives so that one can gain a full and well rounded picture of self-mutilation, it's causes and it's effects - both overt and obvious as well as subtle and nearly imperceptible.
The most startling revelation I experienced while reading this book - which is a page turner in and of itself - is that I had the impression that I was somehow unique and special in the fact that I was a self-mutilator (because it is such a personal method of self-expression often shrouded in cultivated secrecy and privacy on the part of the self-mutilator) and that I managed to overcome my urges by finally learning how to feel my feelings and address my issues in healthier ways as "normal" people do. This book, however, made me realize that it was almost formula pre-destiny based on the circumstances of my upbringing that would serve as the basis and foundation for the ways I acted out down the road in my teenage years. I was left with the sense that, given all the criteria of what makes a injurer an injurer, I almost had no choice but to do what I did in order to survive and cope - and the act IS a form of survival and coping when you are given the message while growing up that control and perfection is crucial and any overt, yet healthy and normal, form of emotional expression is not okay for whatever reason. This realization made me a bit angry for a time and left me feeling that the path I'd taken in life that I thought was of my own free will was actually one that was chosen for me, in a sense, by those who had a hand in my upbringing; that what I had spent years attempting to address and overcome was actually something I may not have had to address at all had my formative years and childhood been different because, quite simply, self-mutilation is an effect of a cause. I was left wondering what else I may have done with my time and energy had I not had to grapple with this because, for many years, it was a behavior that consumed me - both in the doing of it and then, later, the overcoming of it.
Self-mutilation isn't something people just choose to do without reason or without a deep-seated basis of history that, in a strange way, actually supports the behavior. This book sheds illuminating light on how and why self-mutilators develop into who they are and why they do what they do and it also makes a strong case as to why this is not an act that suggest suicidal tendencies as many suspect, but rather an extreme way of trying to stay alive and save ones own life by expressing emotions, as all humans need to do, in a secretive way that prevents backlash from those around the person who have made it clear that the normal path of expression is not acceptable.
For anyone who self-mutilates and wishes to understand themselves on some very deep levels in order to gain insight - which in and of itself may generate the path toward overcoming the behavior, although some suggestions for treatment and help are given in the book - or those who know and love a person who self-mutilates but doesn't quite understand why they do what they do, thus far I have read no other book that addresses the issue better than this one does and cannot recommend it enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brutally honest, July 4 2005
By A Customer
Reading this book really gets people in the headspace that those who self injure and suffer from depression, low self esteem and eating disorders live in. It chronicles very honestly all the points behind cutting, from the euphoria and sheer joy that comes from slicing the flesh to the desire (for some) to overcome it. Highly recommended for those who do self injure or for families trying to understand why.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some questions, and answers, on self-mutilation, April 6 2007
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bright Red Scream (Paperback)
A reference to this book in a novel I recently read led me to seek out this book for myself.

Many of us will know someone who has self-mutilated. Some of us will have direct experience. Each of us will wonder 'Why?' This book sets out, in a clear easy to read way the views of some professionals. It also sets out, in a clear and non-judgemental fashion, the experiences of some self-mutilators. In seeking to explain, it neither condones nor condemns.

In my view, the book has two primary audiences:those who seek to understand and those who seek to explain such behaviours.

If understanding is the first step towards healing for some, then this book may well provide a welcome step.

Highly recommended to those who seek to understand what is generally seen as either inexplicable or attention-seeking behaviour. In my experience, it is generally neither.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bright indeed, March 3 2005
Not for the faint-hearted, this is a book that can be beneficial even if you're not a "cutter" or know someone who is. I was first introduced and interested in this area after I read a disturbing short story ("Early Sunday Morning") by Jackson McCrae, from his latest book, THE CHILDREN'S CORNER. It was harrowing with its dead-pan telling and suspense. That started me on a quest. I have been studying up on different disorders for a year or so now and I wanted to read this since it was one of the only books on SI at my local library, which is quite sad. I know some cutters and so it helped me a lot, from a friendship standpoint and personally. It is a good mix of information and personal accounts. Definitely a must read for anyone interested in the subject. Would also recommend CUT for another great read on this subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Long overdue is right, Aug. 12 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Bright Red Scream (Hardcover)
This book is a must for anyone interested in "understanding" the self-mutilation aspect. It's extremely well researched and seems to have been written as much for those who "participate" as members of the family and those seeking to understand. Would also recommend two other books: CUT which is about the obvious, and a work of fiction titled THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD--not so much about self-destruction as child abuse and repressed memories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The book with the answers to "Why would someone do that?!", July 19 2004
By A Customer
This book is amazing. Even though it's not written by a doctor or a psycholgist, this book is filled with more true information than other books I've read. Interviews with self-injurers of every age and background make this book very well-researched and help people to realize that it's not just something that teenagers do to get attention.
I highly recommend this book for friends or family members of people who SI. It might help something that seems "disgusting" and "wrong" and "gross" seem more understandable.
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3.0 out of 5 stars i recommend it to people who want to understand SI, June 20 2004
By 
This book was a good read because it tells stories of SI and explains why people may do it, and gives lots of refrences to get help. If you SI i think the stories might help you understand it, but the authors explanation for SI is very intresting too.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Over-dramatic and scary, June 7 2004
By A Customer
This book capitalizes on "shock factor" rather than fact. The author uses only the most extreme cases and fails to show her readers what a more common scenario looks like. The book frightens victims and parents alike, If you Self-Injure or know someone who does, this book will scare you more than help. Read Steven Levenkron's book or better yet, talk to a doctor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, March 29 2004
By A Customer
One of the best and most helpfull books I have ever read. Offers real and thoughtful insight and understanding. I am, myself a cutter, and it is refreshing reading a book that, for a change, I do not piff across the room in frustration!
Very easy to read and follow, addresses the issue in a non judgemental and open minded way.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review requested: Is this written for a teen reading level?, Dec 2 2003
By A Customer
I'm looking for a great book that teens could read about this issue. I need a book that's not complex in its wording, not "clinical," more toward the personal insight than to the research-based information, etc. Would this be such a book, or could someone suggest one?
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