Self-Harm Behavior and Eating Disorders: Dynamics, Assessment, and Treatment

Self-Harm Behavior and Eating Disorders: Dynamics, Assessment, and Treatment

Self-Harm Behavior and Eating Disorders: Dynamics, Assessment, and Treatment

Self-Harm Behavior and Eating Disorders: Dynamics, Assessment, and Treatment

Synopsis

Although self-harm behaviors such as burning, cutting or abrading oneself are common in individuals with eating disorders, not much is known about the precise relationship between this frequent occurrence. As the first clinical text to address the subject in a comprehensive fashion, Self-Harm Behavior and Eating Disorders fills that gap. The book's seventeen chapters, written by expert therapists and clinicians, are designed to provide professionals with the information and tools they need to treat patients who have eating disorders and engage in self-harm behaviors. Grouped into four major sections - Epidemiology, Psychodynamics, Assessment, and Treatment - these chapters examine the co-occurrence of self-harm behavior and eating disorders from a variety of perspectives. The authors consider cross-cultural factors, the complications caused when a patient suffers from other disorders, and the efficacy of various treatment programs. This long-needed book is destined to be a critical resource for professionals in the field.

Excerpt

Over the last 20 years, the literature in the field of eating disorders has been expanding at a rapid rate. There are currently two significant professional journals, one empirically based newsletter, and a newsletter for family members and significant others of individuals with eating disorders. Yet, this is just a fraction of the material currently being published in the field. What has become increasingly clear is that patients with eating disorders represent a complex, heterogeneous group who require extensive study and understanding (Garner & Garfinkel, 1997).

Patients who present with eating disorder symptoms are extremely diverse. Imagine a group of patients who have become so alienated from their bodies that they purge food, aggressively diet or restrict, exercise compulsively, and/or regularly terrorize themselves with punitive messages about their appearance, worth, and value. Imagine, yet, that a significant number also intentionally attack and inflict injury to their bodies, sometimes permanently, by burning, cutting, or scratching themselves, or undertaking some other form of bodily harm. Imagine, subsequently, the relationship that any of these individuals has with their body self or psychological self, or the degree of isolation, lack of safety, unhappiness, or fear that they must experience. Clearly, any information that might help these patients live their lives without the intense drive to attack their bodies is important.

Initially, the subgroup of patients with eating disorder who self-injured generally went unrecognized in the eating disorder literature. When the intersection between self-injury and eating disorders was in fact discussed, self-injury (i.e., self-mutilation) was examined either in the context of one of many prognostic indicators (Garfinkel & Garner, 1982, p. 346) or as one

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