Understanding non-suicidal self-injury: psychological and psychophysiological factors that distinguish self-injurers from non-injurers

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2017
Tuna, Ezgi
The purpose of the present study was to explore the frequency, characteristics and functions of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), and to identify psychological and psychophysiological factors that distinguish self-injurers from non-injurers, in a sample of Turkish college students. In Study 1, frequency and characteristic features of self-injury were explored, and potential gender differences in NSSI were assessed. Next, self-injurers and non-injurers were compared on emotion dysregulation, self-compassion, self-criticism, positive and negative affect, and thought suppression variables. In Study 2, in a laboratory-based design, pain perception and changes in pain perception as a result of distress were explored. Furthermore, skin conductance levels were recorded to assess physiological reactivity of participants during painful and distressing stimuli. Findings suggested that NSSI is a frequent and repetitive behavior in the current sample, which commonly serves an emotion regulation function. The only gender difference was found in the methods of self-injury. As expected, NSSI group scored higher on emotion dysregulation, self-criticism, negative affect, and thought suppression; and lower on self-compassion as compared to non-injurers. Furthermore, self-injurers had higher tolerance to pain; however, pain perception did not change as a function of distress. Although self-injurers reported relatively more distress during a distressing task, both groups showed comparable levels of physiological reactivity and distress tolerance in objective measures. Moreover, self-injurers and controls did not differ in physiological reactivity during painful stimuli. Importance, limitations, and possible implications of the present study, as well as recommendations for future research were discussed.   
Citation Formats
E. Tuna, “Understanding non-suicidal self-injury: psychological and psychophysiological factors that distinguish self-injurers from non-injurers,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2017.