This book needed to be written a long time ago. Self-harm, deliberate injury to the body, is nothing new. People have self-harmed over time and across cultures; often in secret and often in shame. It is only recently that self-harm has been recognised as a serious problem that many people suffer with all of their lives, often despairing in their isolation because of the great veil of secrecy which still surrounds the subject. We have written this book with the hope of breaking down some of that secrecy and also of reducing some of the isolation that those of us who selfharm often feel. We ourselves have each had experience of self-harm; both personally and professionally. For years Dee used self-harm as a way of coping with difficult and distressing feelings. She has also run a self-help telephone line for others struggling in similar ways. Both Jacqui and Gerrilyn are Clinical Psychologists and their professional activies involve working with women who self-harm. In addition both Jacqui and Gerrilyn have each fostered daughters whose self-harming behaviour led to numerous casualty visits, multiple admissions for inpatient treatment, the prescribing of
psychotropic medication, and various forms of therapy. These young women have received a tremendous amount of help, both good and bad over the years, much of which they took unquestioningly in their desperation for an end to their suffering. For Jacqui and Gerrilyn as foster parents and primary care givers, help was completely lacking. Both have known the pain and anguish of watching someone they love repeatedly hurting themselves and at times appearing as if they were slowly dying before their very eyes.