Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy

Article excerpt

MAGGIE TURP: Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002, 240 pp., $26.95, ISBN 1-85302-901-7

In Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy, Maggie Turp makes the case that therapists need not wait for something clearly self-destructive to occur to call upon our understanding of self-injurious behavior in an effort to help individuals unable to care for their own healthy development and needs. Using a psychoanalytic psychotherapeutic orientation, with strong reliance on the work of Winnicott, Bion, and her own previous writings, Turp focuses on the issue of "hidden" self-harm. She describes, using case material, how often individuals come for therapy, discuss various conflict areas, and reveal, sometimes initially but sometimes after a period, that their behavior reflects self-harmful tendencies that may not rise to overt self-destructive actions. Turp also reflects on her infant development observations to depict how the capacity for self-care usually develops and how it can be derailed. Her clinical insights are thoughtful, supportive, and cognizant of the difficult task of the therapist to work with individuals with such "hidden" self-harmful tendencies. She particularly emphasizes the importance of supervision and the value of healthy self-care for the therapist.

Turp also directs therapists to make full and effective use of their own reactions to the person receiving therapy, including the therapists' thoughts, fantasies, even physical reactions. These reactions form a useful pathway to understanding what might be happening beneath surface interactions during the therapy hours. …

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