9780670877812 / 0670877816

A Bright Red Scream: Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain


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Publisher:Viking Adult, 1998



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About the book:

Self-mutilation is a behavior so shocking that it is almost never discussed, but is cloaked in denial. Yet estimates are that over two million Americans--and millions more around the world--are chronic self-injurers. They are people who use knives, razor blades, or broken glass to cut themselves. They do it systematically for many years, and without help they can rarely stop. Most have lived through severe forms of emotional or physical childhood abuse. The pain they feel is mute, and their only cry is a bright red scream. They call themselves "cutters," and this book is their story. The media finally began to notice this devastating problem with a 1997 cover story in The New York Times Magazine and storylines in episodes of the TV series Law and Order and Homicide. Similar in scope and audience to Reviving Ophelia, Peggy Orenstein's School Girls, and Steven Levenkron's Anorexia Nervosa, A Bright Red Scream is the first popular book to investigate why so many people deliberately hurt themselves. Through interviews with dozens of psychiatrists, doctors, researchers, clinicians, and cutters around the country, Marilee Strong discovers what factors most often lead to cutting, how feelings of rage and self- punishment are played out, and how cutters use the physical pain of cutting to blot out emotional pain locked inside. Strong reveals what people with the affliction and those close to them can do to start a process of healing.

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