Clinicians and researchers have recently observed an increase in the
prevalence of self-injurious behaviors. Specifically, superficial/moderate selfmutilation,
which includes cutting and burning of the skin, has been noted in
several current psychological disorders. Throughout history, numerous
classification schemes and functions for these behaviors have been proposed.
This paper examined the contention that women with histories of childhood
sexual abuse commonly utilize self-injurious behaviors. Four functional
categories served by self-injury were proposed as best fitting this population. A
critical examination of the literature provided support for a proposed link between
self-injurious behaviors in women and a history of childhood sexual abuse.
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