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Psychopharmacol Bull. 1989;25(4):556-63.

Rationale for clinical trials of opiate antagonists in treating patients with personality disorders and self-injurious behavior.


A subgroup of patients with personality disorders from the DSM-III-R (American Psychiatric Association 1987) "flamboyant" cluster is characterized by repetitive self-injurious behavior (SIB) apparently not motivated by suicidal intent. After describing the clinical and demographic characteristics of these patients, the clinical and preclinical evidence suggesting the involvement of endogenous opiate systems in this behavior is reviewed. Patients with personality disorders and SIB have been found to have elevated levels of plasma beta-endorphin. However, the available evidence is not sufficient to show whether this is a cause of or a consequence of SIB. Behavioral stereotypies resulting in self-injury in animals and SIB in mentally retarded patients have been shown to be abolished by opiate antagonist administration in a significant proportion of both groups. The available evidence suggests that clinical trials of oral opiate antagonist drugs should be undertaken because of the promise such drugs have in the treatment of this sometimes life-threatening disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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