The Tender Cut

Inside the Hidden World of Self-Injury

264 pages

1 illustrations

August, 2011

ISBN: 9780814705070

$25

Paper

Also available in

Authors

Patricia A. Adler is Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Peter Adler is Professor of Sociology at the University of Denver. They are the co-authors and co-editors of numerous books, including Peer Power, Paradise Laborers, and Constructions of Deviance. Both Adlers collaboratively received the 2010 George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

All books by Patricia A. Adler

Peter Adler is Professor of Sociology at the University of Denver. Patricia A. Adler is Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. They are the co-authors and co-editors of numerous books, including Peer Power, Paradise Laborers, and Constructions of Deviance. Both Adlers collaboratively received the 2010 George Herbert Mead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction.

All books by Peter Adler

Choice's Outstanding Academic Title list for 2013

2013 Honorable Mention for the Distinguished Book Award presented by the Midwest Sociological Society 
 
Honorable Mention for the Charles H. Cooley Award for Outstanding Book from the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
  
Cutting, burning, branding, and bone-breaking are all types of self-injury, or the deliberate, non-suicidal destruction of one’s own body tissue, a practice that emerged from obscurity in the 1990s and spread dramatically as a typical behavior among adolescents. Long considered a suicidal gesture, The Tender Cut argues instead that self-injury is often a coping mechanism, a form of teenage angst, an expression of group membership, and a type of rebellion, converting unbearable emotional pain into manageable physical pain.Based on the largest, qualitative, non-clinical population of self-injurers ever gathered, noted ethnographers Patricia and Peter Adler draw on 150 interviews with self-injurers from all over the world, along with 30,000-40,000 internet posts in chat rooms and communiqués. Their 10-year longitudinal research follows the practice of self-injury from its early days when people engaged in it alone and did not know others, to the present, where a subculture has formed via cyberspace that shares similar norms, values, lore, vocabulary, and interests. An important portrait of a troubling behavior, The Tender Cut illuminates the meaning of self-injury in the 21st century, its effects on current and former users, and its future as a practice for self-discovery or a cry for help.

Reviews

  • “Insightful and sympathetic…The extraordinary depth of knowledge of the dimensions of self-injuring will increase the understanding of those who see self-injurers in their work and private lives.”

    —Ruth Horowitz, author of Honor and the American Dream: Culture and Identity in a Chicano Community

  • "Timely, important…In their thorough treatment of the subject, the authors include a history and literature review of this difficult topic, discussions of case histories, and examinations of relational dynamics and social contexts that may lead to cutting…This is a must read for those connected in any way to this topic."

    Library Journal

  • "But more than a compendium of personal accounts, The Tender Cut charts self-injury's shift from a behavior regarded as pathological and practiced by demonstrably mentally ill to a more widely accepted coping mechanism and a vehicle for the assertion of will or identity...thought-provoking books sheds a many-rayed light on a topic often shrouded in darkness."

    —Haili Jones Graff, Bitch Magazine

  • "Social, psychological and cultural insights abound in this recommendation for college-level health holdings."

    The Midwest Book Review

  • "Adler views self-harm as a kind of 'self-help', rather than a near-suicidal expression."

    —Emine Saner, The Guardian

  • "Adler and Adler's expansive work draws in and integrates multiple perspectives and addresses timely and important issues in the field of self-injury."

    —Stephen P. Lewis + Michele L. Davis, Contemporary Psychology

  • "successfully gives a face to self-injury and how it fits into the larger realm of social understating"

    J Youth Adolescence

  • "The Tender Cut is an exhaustive, compelling...sociological study."

    Metapsychology

  • "The Tender Cut presents a comprehensive discussion of self-injury through a sociological lens...[it] will be...relevant to other people providing support and advice to people who self-harm."

    —Emily Klineberg, Sociology of Health & Illness