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Self-injurous behaviors: Classification, function, and etiological basis

26 July 2004


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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