A Bright Red Scream

Self-Mutilation and the Language of Pain

by Marilee Strong

"I highly recommend [A Bright Red Scream], because it’s beautifully written and . . . so candid.” —Amy Adams, star of HBO's Sharp Objects in Entertainment Weekly

Self-mutilation is a behavior so shocking that it is almost never discussed. Yet estimates are that upwards of eight million Americans are chronic self-injurers. They are people who use knives, razor blades, or broken glass to cut themselves. Their numbers include the actor Johnny Depp, Girl Interrupted author Susanna Kaysen, and the late Princess Diana. Mistakenly viewed as suicide attempts or senseless masochism—even by many health professionals—"cutting" is actually a complex means of coping with emotional pain. Marilee Strong explores this hidden epidemic through case studies, startling new research from psychologists, trauma experts, and neuroscientists, and the heartbreaking insights of cutters themselves--who range from troubled teenagers to middle-age professionals to grandparents. Strong explains what factors lead to self-mutilation, why cutting helps people manage overwhelming fear and anxiety, and how cutters can heal both their internal and external wounds and break the self-destructive cycle. A Bright Red Scream is a groundbreaking, essential resource for victims of self-mutilation, their families, teachers, doctors, and therapists.

  • Penguin Publishing Group; October 1999
  • ISBN: 9781101655788
  • Read online, or download in secure ePub format
  • Title: A Bright Red Scream
  • Author: Marilee Strong
  • Imprint: Penguin Books

In The Press

"I read a book called A Bright Red Scream, and read about people’s emotional release that comes with the cutting. It’s a very complicated issue, and if anyone’s curious, I highly recommend that book, because it’s beautifully written and people are so candid.” —Amy Adams, in Entertainment Weekly on her role in Sharp Objects

"A compelling tour of the trauma and science of self-injury" —Time

"A Bright Red Scream is thick with scientific studies, up-to-date research and—most important—tender . . . portraits of real-life cutters." —New York Post
"Riveting and dynamically written, this book is an important addition to psychological literature." —Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"An imporessive complement to Mary Pipher's bestselling explication of the woes of adolescent girls, Reviving Ophelia." —Booklist

"A Bright Red Scream has the hallmark of a classic work on a topic that [is] impossible to ignore."  —San Diego Tribune

About The Author

Marilee Strong has written for the Atlanta Constitution and San Diego Union. The recipient of a Pulitzer Fellowship to report on child victims of war trauma, she has won a National Headliner Award and a Society for Professional Journalists Excellence Award. She lives in Oakland, California.