By Chris Millard

This e-book is open entry less than a CC by way of license and charts the increase and fall of varied self-harming behaviours in twentieth-century Britain. It places self-cutting and overdosing into historic point of view, linking them to the massive adjustments that take place in psychological and actual healthcare, social paintings and wider politics.

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Additional info for A History of Self-Harm in Britain: A Genealogy of Cutting and Overdosing

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Highly probable’. 46 Ideas of communication with a social circle or crying out for help become bound up in negative stereotypes about ‘attentionseeking’ behaviour, which is seen as unhelpful by many experts on selfharm. 47 In tune with Anderson’s analysis, many experts argue that current selfinjury concerns, the parasuicide epidemic of the 1960s and 1970s and Victorian attempted suicide are indeed largely the same thing and form an unbroken chain back into the past. 49 In the 1960s, eminent toxicologist Sir Derrick Melville Dunlop performs a similar projection using notions of hysteria: [D]ifferent generations tend in certain respects to vary in their patterns of behaviour.

This concerns violence again, but also a new category of ‘restraint’. At issue in the therapeutic dispute is whether the most significant aspect of attempted suicide is the somatic, physical, injury or the presumed underlying mental disorder. Ideas of renewal and violence, emphasised in the practical negotiations around police involvement, have another set of resonances with mental disorder through the presumed need for restraint. This aspect emerges most clearly at a 1922 inquest into the death of William Bardsley, a clerk from Stockport.

One of the pivotal chapters in this foundational text of antipsychiatry is ‘Hysteria as Communication’. 88 This also links up to Derrick Dunlop’s (1967) and Raymond Jack’s (1992) associations of self-poisoning with hysteria. Ideas around communication are absolutely central to psychiatric thought during the post-war period, even whilst they are anchored in, and stabilised by, much older concerns. The emergence of social psychiatry, undergirded by the analytical tools of coping and stress, casts mental illness as a form of communication: attempted suicide as cry for help is an expression of, and a driving force behind, this turn to the social.

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