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Who's Hurting Who?

Helen Spandler

Self-harm was a way of feeling that I was worth something to myself because I can say "God, I can control this - how many times I cut, how far I go, where I do it and how I do it'.  Nobody can control that...

How often do young people get a chance to say something like that to a professional worker?  How often will that worker take their insights on boad and carefully recod them so that other professionals are requied to confront them?

This book (published in 2001) provides description of a research report, based on intensive and often disturbingly frank individual and group individuals with fifteen young people, sets out to break such barriers.  Designed to allow the young people to speak fo themselves, it provides vivid evidence on how, fo them, self-haming and attempts at suicide have a range of positive functions.  It throws light too on the (often cruel) inability of helping services to accept these explanations.  It concludes with some specific insights into the kinds of services and response that the young people believe should be developed.

Who's Hurting Who?  provides no easy solutions.  Rather, it highlights the young people's own ambivalence about their behaviour.  It also explores the would-be helper's dilemmas over how to offer support and protection in ways that respect young people's autonomy.

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