Groundbreaking Book by Hofstra Alumnae Tackles A Grievous Issue for Families
by Ginny Ehrlich-Greenberg
On an early spring afternoon three beautiful and accomplished Hofstra alumnae gathered to talk about their unique collaboration. When Your Child Is Cutting: A Parent's Guide to Helping Children Overcome Self-Injury is the first handbook for parents ever written on the subject of self-injury.
Though the authors, Dr. Merry McVey '95, '00; Dr. Sony Khemlani '95, '01; and Dr. Fugen Neziroglu '74, '76, often deal with the darkest of topics in their practice, the energy in the room is light and full of smiles and laughter. "We're very close," says Dr. Neziroglu.
"We take our work very seriously, but we don't take ourselves very seriously at all," adds Dr. McVey.
The three are in residence together at the Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck, New York, which specializes in behavioral illnesses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, compulsive hoarding (which Dr. Neziroglu has also written about), social phobias, body dysmorphic disorder, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a variety of other conditions.
Drs. Neziroglu and McVey both teach in the Department of Psychology at Hofstra. Dr. Neziroglu teaches psychopharmacology to graduate students, and Dr. McVey teaches psychological aspects of human sexual behavior in the undergraduate program.
It was prior to the publication of When Your Child Is Cutting that they spoke about their work with children who self-injure and how they guide parents whose children are suffering from this addictive behavior.
What was the genesis of the book?
Dr. Merry McVey: We've been seeing a significant and rising sample of adolescents and children with self-injury issues.
Dr. Fugen Neziroglu: The school districts are actually referring patients to us because they have seen such a rise in self-injury among children and adolescents.
Dr. McVey: School social workers and school psychologists are seeing kids who are younger and younger. This was originally considered a problem among high school students. Now it's also an issue among middle school students.
In terms of the general population we see self-injury occurring in between 12 to 14 percent of non-clinical community samples of high school to college students [non-clinical samples refers to people with no previous psychiatric diagnosis]. This is pretty significant. And in clinical samples the rates are much higher - this is a behavior seen among 80 percent of individuals with borderline personalities.