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"There was very fine, an elegant pain, hardly a pain at all, like the swift and fleeting burn of a drop of hot candle wax...Then the blood welled up and began to distort the pure, stark edges of my delicately wrought wound.
"The chaos in my head spun itself into a silk of silence. I had distilled myself to the immediacy of hand, blade, blood, flesh."
There are an estimated two to three million "cutters" in America, but experts warn that, as with anorexia, this could be just the tip of the iceberg of those affected by this little-known disorder. Cutting has only just begun to enter public consciousness as a dangerous affliction that tends to take hold of adolescent girls and can last, hidden and untreated, well into adulthood.
Caroline Kettlewell is an intelligent woman with a promising career and a family. She is also a former cutter, and the first person to tell her own story about living with and overcoming the disorder. She grew up on the campus of a boys' boarding school where her father taught. As she entered adolescence, the combination of a family where frank discussion was avoided and life in what seemed like a fishbowl, where she and her sister were practically the only girls the students ever saw, became unbearable for Caroline. She discovered that the only way to find relief from overpowering feelings of self-consciousness, discomfort, and alienation was to physically hurt herself. She began cutting her arms and legs in the seventh grade, and continued into her twenties.
Why would a rational person resort to such extreme measures? How did she recognize and overcome her problem? In a memoir startling for its honesty, humor, and poignancy, Caroline Kettlewell offers a clear-eyed account of her own struggle to survive this debilitating affliction.
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A number of recent books by journalists and therapists have probed the social and psychological forces behind the alarming practice of self-mutilation; this unflinching memoir tells readers what it feels like. Caroline Kettlewell made her first attempt at age 12 with a Swiss Army knife, too dull to perform satisfactorily, but she quickly graduated to razor blades. "There was a very fine, an elegant pain," she writes of her initiation. "In the razor's wake, the skin melted away ... then the blood welled up ... the chaos in my head spun itself into a silk of silence." Describing her tense but not unusually difficult youth, the author doesn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out why she was so unhappy, concentrating instead on making palpable her sense of dread and terror of being out of control, emotions relieved by the act of cutting. Some readers may wish for more self-analysis, but others will find Kettlewell's austere prose and sensibility refreshing. "I kept cutting because it worked. When I cut I felt better, " she explains. "I stopped cutting because I always could have stopped cutting." Not the fanciest way to put it, but those sentences, like the entire book, have the cadences of "the plain and inelegant truth." --Wendy SmithFrom the Publisher:
"Skin Game is a book of monumental value and importance. Caroline Kettlewell's graphically honest descriptions of her own self-inflicted violence are a testimony to her tremendous courage and strength. Readers are sure to be moved, enlightened, and empowered."
--Tracy Alderman, Ph.D., author of The Scarred Soul: Understanding and Ending self-inflicted Violence and Amongst Ourselves: A Self-Help Guide for Living with Dissociative Identity Disorder
"In this remarkable, exquisitely written, and important book, Kettlewell reveals the sublime seductiveness of self-wounding and makes sense of the seemingly senseless....This is a book about the human condition and about how flesh and spirit both battle and sustain each other. Kettlewell successfully manages to put on paper what many others are unable to describe coherently. I am thankful that her pen was mightier than her razor."
--Armando Favazza, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia, author of Bodies Under Siege
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Book Description St. Martin's Press. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0312200110 Ships promptly from Texas. Seller Inventory # Z0312200110ZN
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