This book addresses the phenomenon of self-mutilation, as practiced by adolescents and adults living in contemporary Western society, as found in the imagery of clients in art therapy, and as performed by artists as part of their body of work. Literature on self-mutilation in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, and art therapy is compared to and contrasted with art historical literature on a selection of contemporary performance artists using self-mutilation in their work. The principal aim of this study is to examine the motivations and functions of self-mutilation performed in the contexts of pathology and performance art. The subsidiary aim is to investigate the relationship between the actor and the viewer, be it the performance artist and the audience, or the client and the therapist. Treatment implications for art therapists are explored.
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