Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study explored the relationship between cutting and the theory of self psychology, examining deficits within the tripartite self and its relation to cutting. Specifically, the study explored a possible link between the twinship pole or idealized parent imago pole and cutting. This researcher set out to identify whether deficits in twinship or idealized parent imago may lead to cutting. Eight qualitative interviews were conducted with clinicians having at least one year of experience working with individuals who engage in self-injury by cutting. Clinicians were asked to identify a case example of an individual they worked with who cut. Semi-structured questions were asked to elicit data on peer relationships and relationships with parents for their identified clients. These data were used to identify links between peer relationships and twinship experiences Data were used similarly to draw links between parental relationships and idealized parent imago. Findings from the eight interviews conducted, identified links between cutting and self psychological theory. In all eight cases explored, deficits were present for both the twinship pole and the idealized parent imago pole. Conclusions from this study suggest that deficits in self-structure may lead an individual to cut. Self psychological theory proved to be a valuable lens for exploring cutting. Implications warrant further examination of cutting and self psychology.


iii, 76 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 63-68).