Characterising self-harm and implications for empirical research
1.1 What is Self-harm?
The NICE guidelines define self-harm as self-poisoning or self-injury, irrespective of the apparent purpose of the act. Other authors (e.g Whitlock, 2010) define self-harm as acts of deliberate, self-inflicted physical damage with no explicit intention of committing suicide and for reasons not socially accepted. Although self-cutting is probably the best well known method of self-harm, other methods include self-hitting (battery), pinching, scratching, biting or even burning (Greydanus and Shek, 2009). Moreover, the part of the body where self-harm is conducted varies significantly. Injuries inflicted on the face, eyes, jugular area, breast, or genitals are particularly important as they hint a greater level of psychological distress and, potentially, indicate a worse prognosis for treatment (Whitlock, 2010). Effectively, this suggests a point for consideration when analysing the effectiveness of psychological therapies.