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Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2004 Apr;58(2):191-8.

Habitual self-mutilation in Japan.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan.


The purpose of the present study was to clarify the relationship between bulimic behavior, dissociative phenomenon and sexual/physical abuse histories in Japanese subjects with habitual self-mutilation. Subjects consisted of 34 female outpatients who had cut their wrists or arms on more than 10 occasions. Two age-matched groups, which consisted of 31 general psychiatric outpatients and 26 non-clinical volunteers, served as controls. They were assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory-II, Bulimia Investigatory Test of Edinburgh, Adolescent Dissociative Experience Scale, and an original self-reporting questionnaire concerning various problematic behaviors and sexual/physical abuse histories. The habitual self-mutilation and the two control groups were compared. The habitual self-mutilation group had significantly higher scores on the Beck Depression Inventory-II, Bulimia Investigatory Test of Edinburgh, and Adolescent Dissociative Experience Scale than either of the two control groups (P < 0.001). Furthermore, the habitual self-mutilation group more frequently had a history of illicit psychoactive drug use (P = 0.001), shoplifting (P < 0.001), suicide attempts (P < 0.001), overdosing with medicine (P < 0.001), sexual abuse (P = 0.011), and childhood physical abuse (P = 0.001) than the general psychiatric controls. These results are consistent with those in Western studies. Habitual self-mutilation is likely to coexist with depression, bulimia, and dissociation. Such patients frequently have clinical features similar to those of 'multi-impulsive bulimia'. Evidence supports the association between habitual self-mutilation and sexual/childhood physical abuse in Japan.

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