Thursday, May 21, 2009

What I'm Reading this Week: Beyond the Razor's Edge

Redheffer, J. and Brecht, S. (2005).  Beyond the razor’s edge: Journey of healing and hope beyond self injury.  New York: iUniverse Inc.

I don’ t usually publish book review of books I don’t like, but this one, well, there was something about it that made me want write about it anyway.  Being a former self injurer (or whatever the popular slang for that is now a days), I’m often drawn to books about self injury, this one being no exception. 

The book is a collection of stories and poems written by the patients and staff of SAFE Alternatives treatment program.  SAFE stands for Self Abuse Finally Ends and is associated with a hospital in Chicago.  They are a one-month “cold turkey” program and provide after care for those living in the Chicago area. 

For those who’ve been through the program at SAFE and found healing through it, I imagine this book is a nice way of remembering those times.  I however found the book to be very narrow minded and very focused on how wonderful the program is.  It would be sort of like a book written by recovering alcoholics all of whom found sobriety in the exact same way.  In many ways SAFE resembles AA and the story repeated over and over again is “once I submitted to the process I began to heal”.  And maybe that’s true, but I’m a firm believer that there is more then one way of healing. 

I suppose I need to take the book for what it’s written for though.   The self-described goal of the book is, “to empower individuals to make healthier choices by sharing what has worked for others” (p.ix).  Well, they do share what has worked for others, but I really don’t think that the book is all that empowering.  If anything, I find that it could be frustrating in the way it promotes a very specific program, which is not all that accessible. 

Recommendations… well, I’d have to say don’t bother reading it.  Maybe if you want to go work for SAFE, or if your thinking of starting your own program and want to read about people’s successes in this one. 

The stories are good though.  It takes courage to share your story and each and every woman whose account is in this book had the courage to stand up and say, “this is me”. 



Bethany said...

Do you have an excellent library? I never find this kind of stuff in mine. Fiction they're ok but any kind of psychiatric stuff they're a little iffy on.
Incidentally, I love that you do this what you're reading thing. :)

Still Dreaming said...

Well, all the libraries in my city are linked by computer, and since it's a fair sized city, things are pretty easy to come by. This one though I actually got at the mental health education library.

Brandice said...

I've heard nothing but negative things about that book and its usefulness in practice... glad to hear another coinciding review. I'm also very involved and interested in self injury (also a former self injurer) and I recommend the following books if you haven't already read them:

- Skin Game by Caroline Kettlewell (good and honest memoir)
- Cut by Patricia McCormick (another memoir)
- Cutting: Understanding and Overcoming Self-Mutilation by Steven Levenkron

and it sounds like you've already read the SAFE book (Bodily Harm, they have a 10 hour CEU type training available to go with it as well).

Also, *wave* because I'm a new reader (and fellow social worker, I'm an inpatient psychiatric social worker finishing up supervision hours for my LISW). :)

tracy said...

Self Mutilation in its various forms is a very good indication of "Borderline Personality Disorder"....but wait...i'm finally catching don't want any of us "creepy peeps" posting here...doh. Even tho, maybe, just might be able to learn something...

tracy said...

Ms. Brandice,
Did you go to Brandice? Way cool! One of my best ever Psychiatrist/therapists did his undergrad there :) Too bad we had to move...

All of the books you listed were very good...i especially love anything by Steven Levenkron!

Still Dreaming said...

Just a thought Tracy, did you notice the part where I mentioned I was a former self injurer?

This is a social work blog to get my thoughts out, we all have thoughts that other people don't like. Luckily, we can choose what we read.

tracy said...

Still Dreaming,
i apologize...another sign..."impulsivity"... :(

Still Dreaming said...

Thank you for that. I appreciate it.