Culture and psychological concepts of self-harm
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Psychiatr Pol 2008;42(5):647–657
The paper reveals cultural and psychological concepts of self-harm. The authors tried to describe many, particular functions attached to self-mutilation activity, specially so-called 'normal' and 'pathological' functions. In the author's views there are no firm limits between these to the kinds of self-harm, because so-called 'normal' functions frequently co-occur with 'pathological' ones. From a therapeutic perspective it's beneficial to attempt to understand the subjective meaning of self-injury, what are the 'pathological' and 'normal' functions, how self-mutilations mirror the actual Situation and history of the patient's development, what is the cultural context. In therapeutic intervention, the subjective attitude of the physician / psychiatrist / therapist is crucial, especially in the context of limiting negative aspects of coutertransference. These negative aspects can disturb the contact with patients by a high level of feelings of inefficacy, anger, withdrawal, intrusive interpretations, rejecting patients or limiting effective forms of interventions. The authors of the paper describe some aspects of self-injury such as tattooing, piercing, communication functions, role of traumatic experiences, psychoanalytical and cultural views.