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J Pers Disord. 2006 Feb;20(1):9-15.

Reported childhood onset of self-mutilation among borderline patients.

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Laboratory for the Study of Adult Development, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02478, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the percentage of borderline patients who first engaged in self-mutilation as children and to compare the parameters of their self-harm to those of borderline patients who first harmed themselves at an older age. Two hundred and ninety inpatients meeting both Revised Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines (DIB-R; Zanarini, Gunderson, Frankenburg, & Chauncey, 1989) and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd ed. ref.) (DSM-III-R; APA, 1987) criteria for borderline personality disorder were interviewed about their history of self-mutilation. Of the 91% with a history of self mutilation, 32.8% reported first harming themselves as children (12 years of age or younger), 30.2% as adolescents (13-17 years of age), and 37% as adults (18 or older). Using logistic regression analyses and controlling for baseline age, it was found that those with a childhood onset reported more episodes of self-harm, a longer duration of self-harm, and a greater number of methods of self-harm than either those with an adolescent or adult onset to their self-mutilation. The results of this study suggest that a sizable minority of borderline patients first engage in self-harm as children and that the course of their self-mutilation may be particularly malignant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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