Some Words from Patients and Colleagues
Thank you for my freedom. Thank you for my wings.
— A former patient
Just a holiday note to say thank you fror being here, still, and helping me to keep connected and continue to grow.
— A patient
When I become agitated and don’t know what to do, I imagine that you are here with me. I think of what you would say and see the caring in your face, and that helps me to think about what’s going on with me, and I start to feel better. I don’t have to be there with you to carry you with me.
— A former patient
Do you remember when I used to tell myself how fat and disgusting I am? Well, I’m still kind of fat, but not as fat. And I am not at all disgusting. I no longer need to stuff myself the way I used to, thanks to you. Even better, I like myself now. I can even say that I love myself, something I never would have imagined possible.
— A former patient
I think of you often and always have a piece of you with me—based on out work together—and your capacity to have reached me and connected in a very powerful way—through my fragmentation and anxiety.
— A patient
“Sharon is an extremely knowledgeable and skilled clinician in many areas, including working with issues related to trauma, dissociation, self-injury, eating disorders, and adolescents. As such, she works with clients who many therapists find challenging. She has written some wonderful clinical papers and a book, and I would highly recommend her services.”
— Craig Haen, M.A.
“I have had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Sharon Farber numerous times over the last several years. Sharon’s wisdom, intellect, and unique abilities position her as supreme in her field. Her international acclaim for her books and clinical work are well deserved.
— David Krueger M.D., CEO, MentorPath, Former Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Training and Supervising Analyst, Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute
Dear Sharon —
…I could not resist telling you that the (almost) single reason I am not intimidated about treating people who self-injure is because of your book!! You may remember that you and I had some correspondence a while back . . . about the possibility of your coming to speak here in Durham/Chapel Hill, NC.. Since then I decided that I wanted to talk about your book so I have had, now, three different workshops/presentations on self-injury for clinicians where your book gets major billing. I just talked to a group of therapists in Raleigh at a family services agency and I feel sure that they will now all go out and get a copy of your book! So I just wanted to tell you that you have had a very positive influence on my work and now on the work of other clinicians…
— Judy Bick, LCSW
When the Body Is the Target: Self-Harm, Pain, and Traumatic Attachments
Professional Endorsements of the Book
“When the Body Is the Target integrates and transcends psychodynamic and developmental theories applied clinically to our most difficult-to-understand self-destructive patients, whom we have nicknamed borderline, narcissistic, sadomasochistic. In a brilliant and unique work, Dr. Farber helps us to see the genius and hope of the symptoms of those who articulate self-harm in the lexicon of their bodies, to understand the creative attempt to reveal and conceal that which is inchoate and unformulated, and to listen to how the body speaks.
“With rich case material using the prototypes of eating disorders and self-mutilating behaviors, this is a definitive and comprehensive theoretical, developmental, and clinical reference work, eminently readable.”
— David W. Krueger, M.D., F.A.P.A. Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Baylor College of Medicine, Training and Supervising Analyst, Houston-Galveston Psychoanalytic Institute
“Few patients evoke in their therapists the kind of dread that those who continue to mutilate themselves during treatment do. Dr. Sharon K. Farber earns our gratitude for venturing deeply into this difficult domain. Every therapist treating these patients will learn a great deal from this book, but beyond the immediate, all those who are puzzled by the nature of human aggression will appreciate the many insights the author has assembled.”
— Martin S. Bergmann: Clinical Professor of Psychology, New York University, Post-doctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy
“Using clear and incisive language, Dr. Farber elegantly and empathically cuts to the core of the extreme suffering that our patients who repeatedly harm themselves endure. She provides an exhaustive, scholarly review of the underpinnings of self-mutilation and related behaviors in this beautifully written book. She then goes on to present one of the most sophisticated theoretical and clinical explanations to date showing why these behaviors have become so pervasive, how we can understand them, and what we can do to alleviate the suffering that is at the root of such disorders.”
— Edward J. Khantzian, M.D.: Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Excerpts from Book Reviews
“When the Body Is the Target is impressively comprehensive and jargon-free. Apart from its contents, its up-to-date bibliography alone makes it a must-read for graduate students. But the book is a worthy addition to even a seasoned clinician’s library. By unraveling some of the paradoxes of self-harm, by demonstrating a successful method for dealing with individuals who engage in this behavior, she has enlarged the scope of psychoanalytic treatment and provided hope for an underserved group. She earns our gratitude for doing so.”
— Shari Thurer, S.C.D., Psychologist-Psychoanalyst: Division 39 Newsletter
“Whether the book is utilized for a course of study on how to understand and treat those who harm themselves, or as a resource for those who wish to advance their knowledge and perfect their skills, or as a general reference book, When the Body is the Target will amply reward the reader for the time and effort devoted to it.”
— Joyce Edward, LCSW, National Membership Committee on Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work
“When the Body Is the Target is an impressive exploration of a disturbing part of the human experience; the book has the potential to help many clinicians, and by extension their patients.”
— Paula Wolk, Psychoanalytic Quarterly
“The present volume will be most helpful to graduate students through faculty and to professionals.”
— Choice Magazine
Farber has written When the Body is the Target for clinicians who practice from the divergent theoretical orientations of psychoanalytic thinking, family systems, and a cognitive-behavioral modality. She offers psychoanalytically oriented case presentations to address treatment from these differing perspectives… …Farber presents the “conceptual, organizational, and clinical principles of an empathic and pragmatic psychoanalytically informed treatment” for clinicians with or without psychoanalytic training. This does not necessarily mean that the technique itself is psychoanalytic, but rather that concepts of psychological defenses, a dynamic unconscious, resistance to treatment, and transference, countertransference, and enactments are operant, and that interactional processes between patient and therapist are emphasized”. Farber writes,.. “it is the significant interactions between the patient and the therapist that ultimately lead to structural changes in the patient’s personality.
— Lynda Chassler, Ph.D., Psychoanalytic Social Work
It is a testament to the richness of Dr. Farber’s book that even as the reader is tempted to recoil from the painful subject of self-harm, one is also made to feel hopeful and even inspired by the healing power of the therapist/patient relationship that Dr. Farber describes. In capturing the plight and poignancy of those who self-harm, Dr. Farber enriches our understanding of what it means to be fully human and deeply alive. This is an astonishing book and a journey worth taking.
— Mary Anne Cohen, LCSW, The Clinician, New York State Society for Clinical Social Work
Here is a deep, richly textured book by a psychoanalyst-psychotherapist-clinical social worker who loves to write, written primarily for clinicians who love to read. In a fluent, literary style, Farber engages in a thick brew of theory and clinical narrative. …The clinical insights offered will push the thinking of experienced clinicians.
— Joel Yager, M.D., Eating Disorder Review
Like so many analytically minded practitioner-writers, Farber is eloquent in communicating the internal experiences of people who engage in self-harm and of the therapists who work with them, as well as the intricacy and promise of in-depth therapeutic work. Detailed descriptions and vivid clinical vignettes complement the author’s report on both her own research and other relevant clinical and research findings. Her attention to the link between prior trauma and self-harm, and to the role of attachment in the development of self- harm as a coping strategy and in the healing process, are strong elements in this quite readable and heartfelt book.
— Robin E. Connors, PhD, Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Farber’s book, drawing heavily on attachment theory in understanding the origins of the kinds of addictive pathology described above, provides an engaging opportunity to rethink the continuing dialectic between Freudian drive theory and Bowlby’s belief in the centrality of attachment issues in human development and psychopathology. Her exhaustive and scholarly review of all relevant theoretical viewpoints sheds light on a previously under-studied group of clinical problems and invites the clinician to think about patients from a very broad and informed conceptual framework.
— Leon S. Anisfeld, D.S.W., Psychoanalytic Association of