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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2007 Apr;77(2):332-42.

Subclinical self-harm: range of behaviors, extent, and associated characteristics.

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  • 1Department of Psychology and Anthropology, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, TX 78541-2999, USA.


This study examined characteristics associated with mildly injurious (fingernail biting, skin picking, etc.) and more injurious (cutting, burning, etc.) self-harm (SH) in an undergraduate sample (N = 280); 31% reported mildly injurious SH within the past 3 years with no more injurious SH, whereas 20% reported more injurious SH within the past 3 years. SH was not associated with significant general negative affect or history of physical or sexual abuse, although more injurious SH was associated with a history of emotional abuse. A portion of both groups reported negative affect regarding their histories of SH. Both types of SH were associated with other impulsive and disordered eating behaviors, some obsessive-compulsive characteristics, and more somatic symptoms. Similarities and differences with clinical SH are discussed, as well as implications for further research and treatment. Arguments for and against a continuum view of self-harm, as ranging from mild to severe in injuriousness or clinical significance, are also discussed.

2007 APA, all rights reserved

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