Hidden Self-Harm: Narratives from Psychotherapy

By Maggie Turp | Go to book overview

3
The Capacity for Self-Care:
Observations of Esther

Health here includes the idea of tingling life and the magic of intimacy.
All these things go together and add up to a sense of feeling real and
being, and of the experiences feeding back into the personal psychical
reality, enriching it and giving it scope. (Winnicott 1986, p.31)

This chapter and the next are concerned with 'health' and 'normal development'. We tend to take it for granted that we know what we mean by these terms but detailed investigation reveals a mixed, subtly shaded picture. The question of self-care is, I believe, inseparable from the question of self-harm. It can be difficult, however, to shift our gaze away from self-harm, with its 'noisy' and disturbing quality, and on to self-care, which tends to be quiet and unobtrusive. In other words, it is easy to become preoccupied with what goes wrong, without a clear understanding of what goes right, when it does go right.

The observation extracts presented in this chapter and the next offer food for thought with regard to the possible origins of a capacity for self-care. I hope they capture, too, something of the 'tingling life and the magic of intimacy' referred to by Winnicott above and, in doing so, demonstrate that self-care and overall healthy functioning are closely tied together. The extracts are grouped under a number of headings. Those discussed in this chapter concern especially the internalisation of a caring figure or 'good object', experienced as capable of generating and sustaining a capacity for self-care.

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