Why Do We Hurt Ourselves?

Why Do We Hurt Ourselves?

Understanding Self-Harm in Social Life
Distribution: World
Publication date: 09/01/2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03640-7
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Why does an estimated 5% of the general population intentionally and repeatedly hurt themselves? What are the reasons certain people resort to self-injury as a way to manage their daily lives? In Why Do We Hurt Ourselves, sociologist Baptiste Brossard draws on a five-year survey of self-injurers and suggests that the answers can be traced to social, more than personal, causes. Self-injury is not a matter of disturbed individuals resorting to hurting themselves in the face of individual weaknesses and difficulties. Rather, self-injury is the reaction of individuals to the tensions that compose, day after day, the tumultuousness of their social life and position. Self-harm is a practice that people use to self-control and maintain order—to calm down, or to avoid "going haywire" or "breaking everything." More broadly, through this research Brossard works to develop a perspective on the contemporary social world at large, exploring quests for self-control in modern Western societies.

Author Bio

Baptiste Brossard, a French sociologist, is Assistant Professor at the Australian National University.

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Table of Contents


Part One: A Practice of Self-Control


1. The First Time

2. Towards a Feeling of Dependence

3. Talking about Self-Injury?

4. Quitting

5. Self-Injury on a Regular Basis

6. On the Manners to Self-Injure

Conclusion: Maintaining the Order

Part Two: A Social Positioning Practice


7. The Staging of Discretion

8. At the Origin of "Relational Problems"

9. The Existential Crisis

10. What Gender Represents

11. What Some Events Imply

Conclusion: A Relational Map of Self-Injury

Conclusion: A Self-Controlled Youth