• Our Encounters with Self-Harm

Our Encounters with Self-Harm

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ISBN 978 1 906254 63 6 (2013)
Cover Price: £22.00
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The ‘Our Encounters with…’ series collect together unmediated, unsanitised narratives by service-users, past service-users and carers. These stories of direct experience will be of great benefit to those interested in narrative enquiry, and to those studying and practising in the field of mental health.

This collection brings together a range of voices on the theme of self-harm – from those who have experienced self-harm directly, alongside the friends, family and staff who live and work with self-harm. Too often, our understanding of the unique and complex experiences of people who self-harm is limited to concepts of mental illness, disorder and disease. Yet these stories demonstrate the strength, survival and recovery of people with rich and diverse lives.

Inspiring, hopeful and at times challenging to read, the contributors who have so generously shared their experiences in this book will promote understanding and compassion, improve attitudes and care, and offer hope to those who are personally encountering self-harm. In this respect, this book is of immense value to all those working with self-harm across a spectrum of services and roles, and to those living with self-harm.


About the editors

Forword Helen Spandler

Preface Clare Shaw

 1  Introduction Charley Baker

 Our encounters with self-harm

 2  Fight for life Claire Shortland

 3  Justification Naomi Salisbury

 4  Filigree not gouge Nic Tate

 5  My journey through self-harm J.A.G.

 6  To whom it may concern Trish Staples

 7  Self-harm survivor Rachel Claire Walton

 8  PS. …Help me Caroline Roe

 9  Goodbye, I guess Victoria Reynolds

10  For girls like me Mary T. Shannon

11  Not dying: Scattered episodes Jackie Hopson

12  My encounters with self-harm Sue Denison

13  Biting my lip when I'm screaming inside Lynn Tolmon

14  Let the blood run Pippa Hennessy

15  Self-harm Richard L. Peacocke

16  'X78' and 'Welt' Nic Tate

17  Fading scars Anon

18  Working through self-harm Nicki Evans

19  A letter home Caroline Roe

Finding words: Writing self-harm

20  'I do not believe in silence': Self-harm and childhood sexual abuse Clare Shaw

21  Research and recovers Sarah Chaney

22  A research encounter with self-harm: Using pictures and words Amanda Edmondson, Cathy Brennan and Allan House

Reformulating self-harm

23  The self-harm spectrum: A personal journey Sandra Walker

24  The need behind the urge Y.K.

25  Self-harm: An intelligent language for subjugation and stigma Peter Dargan

Caring for and with people

26 Self-harm and suicide: Doubts and dilemmas Lesley Foster

27  From ignorance to understanding Terri Shaw

28  Experiencing self-harm: The observer Fay Hunkins Walcott

29  Embracing the self, holding the hurt: Self-harm in a survivor led service Michelle Noad and Helen Butlin

30  Self-injured therapists encountering self-harm Gary Winship

31  With a hand on my arm Emma Lamont

32  A mental health nursing perspective on self-harm Anthony John O'Brien

Young people and self-harm

33  Hope fights the ongoing battle Anon

34  Mislead society Chloe

35  Doing the small things right: Developing a young person's mental health liaison team Laurence Baldwin and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Liaison Team

Women's services: Then and now

36  Taking over the asylum: Abuse, self-harm and survival in a high security mental hospital Sam Warner

37  Our encounters with self-harm Nichola Christiansen, Sarah Shuttleworth, Della Rachel Smith and the Women's Group

I was challenged, shocked, enlightened, outraged and at times deeply moved by the narratives in this kook. I thought I ‘knew’ about self-harm; this book was a forceful reminder that each person’s experience of self-harm is unique and different. What came across most powerfully was the importance of listening and trying to understand what the person’s self-harming means to them. It is not an easy read and at times I had to pause for breath or to wipe away tears. It incorporates narratives, poems, reflections and thoughts about self-harm by people who have self-harmed and by family, friends and professionals. The most powerful voices are those of the people who have self-harmed or are still self-harming. Most narratives end with a personal reflection on how the contributor views their own story and the messages they would like to convey to professionals and/ or others in their own or similar positions. I cannot recommend this book enough. Written with honesty and dignity, these accounts bear witness to the sometimes monstrous failings of services ostensibly set up to offer help and support. It invites – even demands of its readers that they examine their own attitudes and practices towards self-harm honestly, without defensiveness. But the accounts also offer a message of hope and reflections on what can make a difference. Jackie Townsend, counsellor and supervisor in Therapy Today, April 2014

Charley Baker

Charley Baker is a Lecturer in Mental Health at the University of Nottingham. She has a BA and MA in literature and a PhD on psychosis and postmodernism from Royal Holloway, University of London. During her studies, Charley worked in both community adult and inpatient adolescent mental health for the NHS. Charley is Associate Editor of Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, has been awarded the title of Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health, and serves on the Editorial Board for Journal of Medical Humanities. She has spoken internationally on issues of representations of mental illness in literature, and has interests around self-harm, suicide, ‘personality disorders’ and the therapeutic use of reading. She is lead author on the co-authored monograph, Madness in Post-1945 British and American Fiction (Palgrave, 2010) and was invited contributor and literary advisor for the psychiatry textbook, Psychiatry PRN (Oxford University Press 2009). She has also written on rape in Angela Carter's fiction, and has published a range of peer reviewed journal articles. Charley is co-founder of the Arts and Humanities Research Council funded international Madness and Literature Network (www.madnessandliterature.org) and International Health Humanities Network (www.healthhumanities.org).

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Charley Baker

Clare Shaw

With a wealth of personal experience of self-harm, Clare Shaw  is one of the UK's most prominent and authoritative voices on this issue. She is also 'one of Britain's most powerful and dynamic young poets' (Arvon Foundation); widely published and anthologised, and with two collections published by Bloodaxe. She lives in West Yorkshire with three cats — and one daughter. For more information about Clare's work visit http://www.clareshaw.co.uk


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Clare Shaw

Fran Biley

Francis Biley (1958-2012) was Associate Professor at the University of Bournemouth. He had particular methodological interests in historiography, autoethnography, unitary appreciative inquiry and using the arts and humanities in health care. Clinically, his interests were in the built care environment, and in the service user movement in mental health and adult care. On 31 January 2013 he was awarded a posthumous Professorship in Nursing by Bournemouth University, which was received by his wife Anna, in recognition of his achievement as a scholar and his trajectory towards a Chair.

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Fran Biley