The Construction of Self-Injury in the Clinical Literature: A Sociological Exploration

Amy Chandler, Fiona Myers, Stephen Platt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents a sociologically informed critique of a range of academic literatures relating to self-injury. It is noted how a lack of consensus on definitional issues, together with the inaccurate portrayal of the "typical self-injurer" in the clinical literature, has impeded the development of a sound understanding of self-injury. Some of the more problematic explanations for self-injury are explored. The individualistic focus of existing research is found to be inadequate, since it fails to account for the social context in which self-injury occurs. Social scientific approaches critically examine psychiatric and psychological constructions of self-injury, explore wider social and cultural meanings of the behavior, and examine its distribution across different social groups. The inclusion of social scientific perspectives into current debates will greatly improve understanding of self-injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-109
Number of pages12
JournalSuicide and Life-Threatening Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


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