Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Mary Lou Kelley

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the provisional prevalence rates and characteristics of self-mutilative behavior in a community sample of adolescents. A total of 368 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 participated in this investigation. Thirty-nine percent of high school students sampled (n = 143) engaged in self-mutilation within the past year. Commonly endorsed behaviors were biting self, hitting self on purpose, and cutting/carving skin. Self-mutilators were likely to engage in these behaviors to reduce internal tension, as well as to gain attention. Self-mutilators were compared with non-mutilating adolescents (n = 225) on self-report measures of negative self-evaluation, cognitive distortions, social problem-solving capabilities, and suicide ideation. Self-mutilators reported greater negative automatic thoughts and poorer self-worth than non-mutilators. Additionally, self-mutilators were more likely to have made a suicide attempt(s) in the past and reported higher levels of suicide ideation. In multivariate regression analyses, suicide ideation and history of suicide attempt(s) contributed to the prediction of self-mutilative behavior, correctly classifying 71% of the total sample. Clinical implications of the results are discussed in the context of contemporary teenage culture.

ISBN

9780591614602

Pages

107

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