Visibility, Help-Seeking and Attention-Seeking



This chapter addresses the contexts in which self-injury occurs, and how it comes to be known by ‘others’. I explore the ways in which self-injury is accounted for within interpersonal relationships – both with intimate (and not so intimate) friends and family; and in the context of healthcare. The visibility of self-injury is highlighted as a central theme. Self-injury is more usually framed as hidden and secret. In contrast, I examine how the accounts of those who have self-injured work with and undermined this understanding. At the same time, I show that there are strong moral aspects to the concealment and revelation of self-injury. I argue that there are significant social and moral risks borne by those whose self-injury comes to be seen. In part, this can be related to the way in which medical practice has responded to, and shaped the meanings of, self-injury. More broadly, the importance of visibility within narratives of self-injury draws on cultural and clinical privileging of sight and touch, over and above more intangible, insubstantial ‘feelings’.


Young People Young Participant Dominant Narrative Negative Framing Formal Healthcare 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LincolnLincolnUK

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