Te Social Transformation
In this book we have highlighted the evolution of self-injury. We argued in chapter 2 that whereas the behavior was for a long time defined and treated by the psycho-medical community according to their clinical view of its cause and population, things changed significantly over the course of our research. In this chapter we extend our discussion of these ongoing developments in self-injury’s practice that took it further beyond the psychomedical bounds and established it more firmly as a sociological phenomenon. Self-injury has become demedicalized in its practice, changing from being primarily a mental disorder, or a disease, into a social trend.
One of the ways self-injury evolved as it morphed into a more widespread practice involves its social contagion. In chapter 4 we discussed how people heard about self-injury from the sources available during the late 1990s and turn of the twenty-first century. But as the first decade of this century unfolded, the types of social learning about it expanded and changed.
People not only discovered and were encouraged to self-injure from others, but they also learned the way to interpret the changing social meanings of this behavior. Joanna, who started to self-injure after her brother’s hospitalization, had a friend who casually mentioned that she wanted to cut herself right then. When Joanna asked her friend why she did it, the girl talked about the way it made her feel and said it was “just such a relief.” Joanna was excited by this revelation because it was the first time she had talked to someone about why she did it and its effects. She realized that her cutting