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When language is maladaptive: recommendations for discussing self-injury

When language is maladaptive: recommendations for discussing self-injury PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to call on researchers and clinicians to carefully consider the terminology used when discussing non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), and specifically the use of the term “maladaptive” coping.Design/methodology/approachDrawing on literature regarding stigma, language and self-injury to support the argument that the term maladaptive is inappropriate to describe self-injury.FindingsUse of the term maladaptive conflates short-term effectiveness with long-term outcomes and ignores context in which the behaviour occurs.Social implicationsUse of the term maladaptive to describe self-injury can invalidate the person with a history of NSSI, impacting stigma and potentially help-seeking. An alternate framing focussed on specific coping strategies is offered.Originality/valueLanguage is a powerful medium of communication that has significant influence in how society shapes ideas around mental health. In proposing a change in the way the authors’ talk about self-injury there is potential to significantly improve the wellbeing of people with lived experience of self-injury. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Public Mental Health Emerald Publishing

When language is maladaptive: recommendations for discussing self-injury

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
1746-5729
DOI
10.1108/JPMH-01-2019-0014
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to call on researchers and clinicians to carefully consider the terminology used when discussing non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), and specifically the use of the term “maladaptive” coping.Design/methodology/approachDrawing on literature regarding stigma, language and self-injury to support the argument that the term maladaptive is inappropriate to describe self-injury.FindingsUse of the term maladaptive conflates short-term effectiveness with long-term outcomes and ignores context in which the behaviour occurs.Social implicationsUse of the term maladaptive to describe self-injury can invalidate the person with a history of NSSI, impacting stigma and potentially help-seeking. An alternate framing focussed on specific coping strategies is offered.Originality/valueLanguage is a powerful medium of communication that has significant influence in how society shapes ideas around mental health. In proposing a change in the way the authors’ talk about self-injury there is potential to significantly improve the wellbeing of people with lived experience of self-injury.

Journal

Journal of Public Mental HealthEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 17, 2019

References