Dimensions of self-injury

Pauline Heslop, Andrew Lovell

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


    Many terms have been used to describe the action of a person hurting themselves, such as self-harm, deliberate self-harm (DSH), self-injury, self-injurious behaviour (SIB), punishment of the self, self-destructive behaviour, self-mutilation, self-inflicted violence, self-wounding, -attack, -damage or -abuse, although this list is by no means exhaustive. Whilst each of these terms may be used interchangeably, they also have different nuances, and the choice of term employed may vary according to the client group, the type of injury caused, service provision factors or personal ideology. The use of such a multiplicity of terms alludes to the socially constructed nature of self-injury, particularly in terms of the ways in which it is explained which influences the sorts of interventions available.

    The terms used most frequently when referring to people in emotional distress are self-harm or deliberate self-harm. The term used most frequently in relation to people with significant learning disabilities is self-injurious behaviour – often shortened to SIB. The extent to which the term employed is of significance in our understanding of why a person might hurt themselves and what a helpful response to this might be is debatable. Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that the way in which we define and describe a particular phenomenon such as this has implications for the ways in which it is responded to by professionals, carers and services more generally. This chapter therefore attempts to unravel some of the complexities about what we mean by ‘self-injury’ in relation to people with learning disabilities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnderstanding and working with people with learning disabilities who self-injure
    EditorsPauline Heslop, Andrew Lovell
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherJessica Kingsley Publishers
    ISBN (Electronic)9780857004437
    ISBN (Print)9781849052085
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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