The Injury and the Wound: Facing the Corporeality of Self-Injury



In this chapter I present an analysis which illustrates the embodied approach taken in Self-injury, Medicine and Society by focusing on two case studies, of sorts. Firstly, I address ‘genesis stories’, or narratives provided by participants of their initial forays into self-injuring practices. Secondly, I consider the role of pain in narratives about self-injury. Running through each of these cases is a concern with duality – narratives grapple with problematic distinctions between outside and inside, pain and pleasure, body and emotion. This reflects enduring dualistic models of understanding embodiment, and I argue that accounts of self-injury indicate both the persistence of such dualisms, and significant challenges. Biomedical knowledge about self-injury emerges in these accounts, via talk about endorphins, and the pleasure and success of the practice. The self-injured body is narrated as an assemblage: of increasingly circulating formula stories about the nature of the practice of self-injury; of neurochemical substances; of tools – razors, heat, knives – which interact with the surface, the ‘outside’ of the body.


Emotional Distress Physical Pain Borderline Personality Disorder Emotional Pain Magazine Article 
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© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LincolnLincolnUK

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