The Gerrards Cross Memorial Centre, East Common,
Gerrards Cross, Bucks, SL9 7AD
Sunday 28th July, 10:30 AM to 17:30 PM
Call for speakers
Members are invited to present their thinking on the topic of Is
self-harm ever justified?. Presentations should be no longer than 30
minutes and followed by a 15 minute discussion of the matters raised.
The attendance fee for members is £16 and for non-Members £25. This fee
includes teas and/or coffees but not lunch which may be purchased. Members who
present will not be required to pay an attendance fee.
Prospective speakers are invited to send electronic copies of abstracts of
no more than 300 words to [email protected]. Abstract need to be received by July 1, 2019.
Some background to the topic.
Writing in the Lancet Keren Skegg said, “The term self-harm is commonly
used to describe a wide range of behaviours and intentions including attempted
hanging, impulsive self-poisoning, and superficial cutting in response to
intolerable tension. As with suicide, rates self-harm vary greatly between
countries. Between 5 and 9% of adults in various Western countries report
having self-harmed within the previous year”. This overview does not take into
account the much wider range of self-harm practices which can be observed in
society today. To begin with there is the taking of narcotic drugs and other
toxic substances, volunteering for experimental medical interventions,
engaging in ultra-high-risk activates such as climbing mountains (it is
suggested that there is an unknown number of bodies buried by snow in the
lower reaches of Mount Everest) or exploring jungles, without adequate
preparation or protection. There is also the question of euthanasia which is
continually presented on our television screens.
It seems to be believed that social media platforms have allowed bullying,
especially of children, to result in child suicides and these organisations do
not appear to be taking this matter with adequate seriousness.
And self-harm is not reserved to only individuals. On an organisational
level, accepting too high a level of risk causing the enterprise to fail
financially causing a considerable amount of harm to both staff and investors.
Another particularly interesting form of self-harm has been occurring in
universities where there has been what can in some instances be described as
panic about the possibility that individuals might discuss, in a favourable
light, some aspects of the struggle by certain elements in the Islamic world.
This restriction of free speech on university campuses is due to the fear of
how Muslims might be able to recruit extremists. Censorship is so blatantly
opposed to the intrinsic ethos of a university that these attempts to control
speech can only lead to considerable harm to the organisation.
On a national level, activities such as Brexit or the declaration of war (the
United Kingdom declaration of war on Germany in 1914 resulted in nearly one
million deaths or serious injuries to its own citizens and costing an
incalculable expenditure of National treasure, not to mention the loss of an
empire). The act of the Social Democrats joining a Parliamentary coalition
with the Tory Party has been seen by many as being a classic example of an act
There are many other aspects to this question, “Is self-harm ever
justified?” There are issues to do with self-harm in the short versus the long
term. There is self-harm versus altruism. There is self-harm versus salvation
or reward in the next life such as Bhuddist monks, petrol and matches and the
phenomenon of the suicide bomber. Therefore, can self-harm be
defined satisfactorily? How do we delimit the notion of the “self”? Does
Trump’s import duties on goods from China, many of which are bought through
Walmart by working class Americans constitute an act of self-harm? What sense
can we make of the word justification in the context of this question? And
last but not least, of course, is the question of who should decide whether an
act of self-harm is justifiable?