Get the key ideas from

Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm

The One-Stop Guide: Practical Advice for Anybody Affected by Self-Harm

By Allan House
12-minute read
Audio available
Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm by Allan House

Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm (2019) explores how and why people deliberately harm themselves. Drawing on real-life examples, these blinks reveal the reality of self-harm and offer some tried and tested strategies that can help sufferers recover. 

  • People struggling with self-harm
  • Friends and family of those who are self-harming
  • Anyone interested in learning more about mental health issues

Allan House is a Professor of Liaison Psychiatry at the University of Leeds. Professor House was previously the Director of the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, where he focused on education and applied health research. 

 

A short note before we begin: These blinks contain descriptions of self-harm, bodily injury, mental illness, bullying, and suicidal ideation.

Go Premium and get the best of Blinkist

Upgrade to Premium now and get unlimited access to the Blinkist library. Read or listen to key insights from the world’s best nonfiction.

Upgrade to Premium

What is Blinkist?

The Blinkist app gives you the key ideas from a bestselling nonfiction book in just 15 minutes. Available in bitesize text and audio, the app makes it easier than ever to find time to read.

Discover
3,000+ top
nonfiction titles

Get unlimited access to the most important ideas in business, investing, marketing, psychology, politics, and more. Stay ahead of the curve with recommended reading lists curated by experts.

Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from

Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm

The One-Stop Guide: Practical Advice for Anybody Affected by Self-Harm

By Allan House
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm by Allan House
Synopsis

Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm (2019) explores how and why people deliberately harm themselves. Drawing on real-life examples, these blinks reveal the reality of self-harm and offer some tried and tested strategies that can help sufferers recover. 

Key idea 1 of 7

Self-harm is an action carried out by an individual to deliberately inflict pain or damage to the self. 

Learning about self-harm can be a confusing experience. There’s a lot of material available online, but some of it can seem melodramatic or designed to shock. Let’s try to reduce this confusion by exploring what we actually mean when we talk about self-harm. 

The key message here is: Self-harm is an action carried out by an individual to deliberately inflict pain or damage to the self. 

This is a useful definition because it keeps things broad and simple. 

The term “self-harm” relates to physical damage of the body. It’s important to note that self-harm is not a mental disorder, and it’s not a label that describes a person. This is important because people who self-harm are often described as “self-harmers.” Labeling someone like this is damaging – it implies that his self-harm defines him and that this aspect of his behavior is fixed and unchangeable. 

It’s also important to note that self-harm is intentional, in that the person deliberately damages himself as the end goal of the action. This differentiates it from activities like binge drinking or starving oneself in order to be thin. Although these activities may also cause harm, the person’s primary intention is not usually to hurt herself. 

We can also see that this definition of self-harm doesn’t specify a reason why people harm themselves. 

This ambiguity is deliberate – self-harm can include suicide attempts, as well as acts that are definitely not suicide attempts. When someone harms herself, we can’t make any assumptions about what her intentions were. Not every act of self-harm is a suicide attempt. With this being said, research has found that people who self-harm have a much higher suicide rate than the general population. 

Now that we understand the broad definition, we can begin to explore how people harm themselves. The two methods of self-harm are self-injury, such as with a blade, and self-poisoning, such as an overdose. 

Many people assume that self-harm only means injuring oneself. If you google self-harm, you will see lots of images of people cutting themselves. In contrast, we usually assume that people who overdose intend to commit suicide. But this is a false distinction. In reality, self-injury and self-poisoning are often not that different from each other. Both are acts of self-harm, and both might be associated with either wishing or not wishing to die. Tellingly, people who repeatedly harm themselves will often alternate between these two methods. 

In the next blink, we’ll take a closer look at what self-poisoning and self-injury commonly involve. 

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

No time to
read?

Pssst. Sign up to your secret to success: key ideas from top nonfiction in just 15 minutes.
Created with Sketch.