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Self-injury: A silent epidemic
August 23rd, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Self-injury: A silent epidemic

Editor's note: Ethnographers Patricia and Peter Adler drew on 150 interviews with self-injurers from all over the world, along with 30,000 to 40,000 internet posts in chat rooms and communiqués to write "The Tender Cut: Inside the World of Self-Injury."

For the last 10 years we have been studying self-injury: the deliberate, non-suicidal destruction of one’s own body tissue, such as self-cutting, burning, branding, scratching, picking at skin, re-opening wounds, biting, head-banging, hair-pulling, self-hitting, swallowing or embedding objects, breaking bones or teeth, tearing or severely biting cuticles or nails, and chewing the inside of the mouth.

When teens embed objects in their skin

Our research, just published as "The Tender Cut," offers the widest base of knowledge about this behavior, based on over 135 in-depth life history interviews with self-injurers located all over the world and tens of thousands of Internet messages and e-mails including those posted publicly and those written to and by us.
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