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Community Ment Health J. 1988 Spring;24(1):22-30.

The plight of chronic self-mutilators.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Missouri-Columbia 65201.


Self-mutilation is a more common behavior than generally realized; its prevalence may be 750 per 100,000. From the responses of 250 subjects to a Self-Harm Behavior Survey we have learned that self-mutilation typically begins in early adolescence and may assume a chronic course characterized by severe psychosocial morbidity. Some chronic self-mutilators already are heavy and generally dissatisfied users of mental health services. The number of them seeking help may increase as a result of heightened public awareness. Community mental health facilities may be hard-pressed to meet the needs and demands of these clinically vexing patients.

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