stephanie's Reviews > Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation

Cutting by Steven Levenkron
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's review
Jun 09, 2007

liked it
bookshelves: psychology, would-never-rec, self-injury
Read in January, 2005

levenkron is a kind of annoying writer. he's come out with maybe the first ya-lit book on anorexia ( the best little girl in the world) and then his follow-up on self-injury, and this book is his "conclusion" on self-injurious behavior.

his main thesis is that people (mostly teenage girls) cut because they have a lack of communication. in behavioral terms, they are indirectly communicating their intense emotional pain by outwardly hurting themselves, a physical manifestation of the "psychache" (to steal from schneidmann) that allows people to respond because language has failed them.

he doesn't take into account the people that cut for grounding purposes, who cut purely for attention, who cut because they begin to dissociate, who cut because they can't think of anything else to do. the people who cut to remind themselves they are alive, to see something moving within them - blood is very symbolic, and just because it is symbolic, it shouldn't be overlooked. also, i feel he ascribes too much of the problem to the parental relationship - while this is indeed the often a good place to start looking, it is not the end all - after all, many girls do not start self-injuring until they leave for college.

(which brings up another aspect he overlooks - the current "trendiness" of being a cutter, and the different ways people self-injure. while cutting is the most common, it's not the only one, and it's not the most dangerous, i would argue.)
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