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Self-Harm in Adolescence

Iva Buresová

The author discusses the subject of self-harm in adolescence, considering the historical context of the development of its classification system. She presents an overview of theoretical fundamentals as well as models of behavior derived from them. Within the context of current research studies, she describes its prevalence, etiology, and comorbidity. The author specifies the basic protective and risk factors as well as all important influences. She presents the diagnostic tools currently used in research and clinical practice including the description of key approaches to prevention, therapy and treatment. This book includes the results of a unique research study mapping the lexical trace of the term self-harm in adolescents and the differences in perception of this term among those without own practice, with mediation and with personal, often repeated experience.
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In the last decades there has been a visible increase in self-harming behaviour in the non-clinical population of adolescents on the European as well as the world scale. In the most comprehensive European research study published so far, Child & Adolescent Self-harm in Europe (CASE) Study, which was conducted in 2000–2001 (Madge et al., 2008), the 11.1% prevalence of self-harm was found in a sample of 30477 adolescents. Subsequent studies then state even a considerably higher occurrence of this phenomenon − up to one fifth (Brunner et al., 2007; Swahn et al., 2012). Although this fact could have been influenced by the increased interest of specialists in researching this phenomenon and the related development and specification of adequate diagnostic tools, it is certain that this specific behaviour, until recently considered highly pathological, is becoming a norm in this key developmental stage to such an extent that a significant number of adolescent individuals try it at least once in their life or even practice it for an extended period of time.

Currently, we therefore cannot consider the concept of self-harm only in the context of psychiatric diagnoses, or disharmonic personality development, but it is necessary to perceive it as one of the important risk factors, which are commonly a part of the process of becoming physically and emotionally mature in the contemporary generation of adolescents. However, the great majority of self-harming adolescents never seek the help of a psychologist, psychiatrist, doctor or another adult person (Hrubá, Klimusov...

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