"“A bright red scream” is how one of the subjects Marilee Strong interviews in this chilling yet compassionate study of self-mutilation describes the sensation of intentionally inflicting pain upon oneself. It is a compulsion that, while shocking and bewildering to most people, affects 2 million or more Americans and countless others around the globe–one of whom, the late Princess Diana, also suffered from the eating disorders that characterize between 35 to 80 percent of all cutters. Rejecting the classic psychiatric wisdom that views self-mutilation as a species of suicidal behavior, Strong links the phenomenon instead to the will to live — often in the face of such overwhelming childhood abuse that the resulting dissociative behaviors are something akin to posttraumatic stress disorder. Strong touches on other issues as well: Why are most cutters women? And is the current fascination with tattooing and piercing, from its most extreme forms in the “alternative” culture to its growing mainstream acceptance, a sublimation of the cutters’ instinct? Through interviews with more than 50 self-injurers, Strong tells the moving story not only of their rage and self-punishment, but also of the courageous journey towards reintegration. (The book also contains an introduction by psychiatrist Armando R. Favazza, author of Bodies Under Seige, one of the leading clinical experts on self-mutilation.)"