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Psychiatry Res. 2009 Apr 30;166(2-3):260-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2008.02.008. Epub 2009 Mar 10.

The functions of self-injury in young adults who cut themselves: clarifying the evidence for affect-regulation.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, United States. E.David.Klonsky@stonybrook.edu

Abstract

The functions of non-suicidal self-injury were examined in 39 young adults with a history of skin-cutting and other self-injurious behaviors including banging, burning, and severe scratching. Consequences, affect-states, and reasons associated with self-injury were assessed by a structured interview. Results indicate that self-injury is associated with improvements in affective valence and decreases in affective arousal. Specifically, participants tended to feel overwhelmed, sad, and frustrated before self-injury, and relieved and calm after self-injury. Further, these affective changes predict lifetime frequency of self-injury, suggesting that they reinforce the behavior. Finally, although reasons for self-injury related to both affect-regulation (e.g., to release emotional pressure that builds up inside of me) and self-punishment (e.g., to express anger at myself) were endorsed by a majority of participants, affect-regulation reasons were overwhelmingly rated as primary and self-punishment reasons as secondary.

PMID:
19275962
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2723954
Free PMC Article
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