Women Who Hurt Themselves: A Book of Hope and Understanding

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Many books have described victims of rape and battering, but scant attention has been paid to another form of harm increasingly common among women. Here at last is a book that provides help for the thousands of women who secretly inflict violence on themselves. Filled with moving stories, this powerful and compassionate book is the first to focus on women who harm themselves through self-mutilation, compulsive cosmetic surgeries, eating disorders, and other forms of chronic injury to the body. Lee, a successful, ...
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Overview

Many books have described victims of rape and battering, but scant attention has been paid to another form of harm increasingly common among women. Here at last is a book that provides help for the thousands of women who secretly inflict violence on themselves. Filled with moving stories, this powerful and compassionate book is the first to focus on women who harm themselves through self-mutilation, compulsive cosmetic surgeries, eating disorders, and other forms of chronic injury to the body. Lee, a successful, married businesswoman, cuts herself and is addicted to pain medication . . . June, a single mother coping with poverty, is an alcoholic . . . Karen, a young nurse, is bulimic . . . Nancy, a wealthy suburban woman, diets incessantly, takes many prescription drugs, and has frequent surgery. What do these women have in common? Dusty Miller, who has successfully treated hundreds of such patients and has published widely on the subject, argues that the hallmark of their condition is a childhood history of failure to receive adequate protection. Trauma Reenactment Syndrome, as the author calls it, is a cluster of behaviors and problematic relationship patterns common to women who were abused, violated, and neglected as children. TRS women carry a double burden of secrets: the secret of what happened to them as children and of what they do in private as adults. Miller shows how these women turn their pain and rage against themselves, reenacting both the abuse and the lack of protection. Frequently misdiagnosed and often mistreated as alcoholism, drug abuse, or biologically based mental illness, Trauma Reenactment Syndrome is resistant to traditional twelve-step treatment programs and psychotherapy. When these therapeutic approaches fail, TRS women blame themselves - and continue the pattern of self-destructive behavior. This book presents for the first time Dusty Miller's successful three-stage therapeutic program that empowers women to escape from the trap of

Miller writes a helpful guide for the thousands of women who secretly inflict violence on themselves though self-mutilation, compulsive cosmetic surgeries, eating disorders, and other forms of chronic injury. "Profound and poignant."--Claudia Bepko and Jo Ann Kreston, authors of Too Good for Her Own Good.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Women traumatized in childhood hurt themselves more often than men do because men are socialized to act aggressively and fight back, notes psychologist Miller, who is director of Clinical Mentoring at Antioch/New England Graduate School. Here she addresses childhood trauma, to which the individual may react by dissociating, but such fragmentation of the personality becomes the basis of her failure to protect herself as an adult. While integrating various treatment approaches, Miller's program focuses on the ``triadic self,'' which she describes as the victim, abuser and nonprotecting bystander within. In the painful narratives culled from her private practice, Miller establishes that such self-destructive behavior as bulimia and cosmetic surgery ``tells the secret story of women's childhood experience over and over again.'' She describes the behavior of her clients as trauma reenactment syndrome (TRS), which, stresses Miller, explains why they are impervious to treatment in 12-step programs and conventional therapy, often being misdiagnosed and mistreated. The author presents evidence that TRS women can be helped to lasting recovery. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465092192
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/20/1995
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 8.02 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Dusty Miller, ED.D., is a psychologist in private practice. A professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at Antioch/New England Graduate School, she also teaches at the Smith College School for Social Work. She lectures frequently on women who hurt themselves and has written on the subject for many professional publications.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Pt. I Traumas Reenacted
1 Women at War with Themselves 3
2 The Body as Battleground 40
3 Secrecy: Silence and Deception 70
4 Self-Protection 93
5 Relationships 117
Pt. II The Healing Journey
6 Misunderstandings and Mistreatment 153
7 The Outer Circle 181
8 The Middle Circle 207
9 The Inner Circle 234
Bibliography 263
Index 267
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