Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm Book Summary - Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm summary

Allan House

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

4.2 (40 ratings)
18 mins
Table of Contents

    Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    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. 

    Want to see all full key ideas from Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm?

    Key ideas in Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm about?

    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. 

    Best quote from Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm

    If you ask someone who has self-harmed about it, they will almost certainly tell you a story about their personal circumstances.

    —Allan House
    example alt text

    Who should read Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm?

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

    About the Author

    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.

    Categories with Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm

    Books like Understanding and Responding to Self-Harm

    People ❤️ Blinkist
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    28 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial