The case of a young woman of twenty five, Sharon, whom I saw for five sessions, who
self-harmed by cutting and burning her skin made me interested in exploring this phenomenon
from a psychoanalytic perspective. She said that she had 1 ~w memories of her childhood, prior to
the age of twelve. Her sense of guilt was very striking. Ste had attempted to commit suicide
when she was eighteen. While recently hospitalised ~pe presented, unasked, cuts on her stomach
for her doctor's attention. She said that she had feelings of sadness, anger and hatred. Towards
whom? I asked. She replied that they were towards herself, that she must be a bad person. She
feels that she isn't free of her father, though he has been dead for five years. The themes that I would like to look at in relation to this woman's problem are how the effect of
the father's violence, so evident in this case, contributed to her problem and why she is harming
herself by marking her skin, either by cuts or bums, thereby causing herself pain, what does she
gain by doing this.
Why does someone harm themselves? Why has Sharon directed anger against herself when it
would seem more reasonable to direct it towards her father. Why can she not be free of him,
someone of whom she had the bitterest memories.
I want to explore Lacanian theory, particularly around the importance of the family, to look at
how relationships in her family impacted on her psychological life. Likewise, I will look at some
of Freud's texts, particularly in relation to the perversions, to see how they help in understanding
the difficulties she is now having as an adult. Freud pointed out that it is only in pathological
cases that preliminary stages of sexual organisation are active and recognisable.