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The psychophysiology of self-mutilation: Evidence of tension reduction


Brain, KL and Haines, J and Williams, CL, The psychophysiology of self-mutilation: Evidence of tension reduction, Archives of Suicide Research, 4, (3) pp. 227-242. ISSN 1381-1118 (1998) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1023/A:1009692507987


Psychophysiological and psychological arousal patterns of individuals who self-mutilate during imaged self-mutilation were examined. Imaged control events (accidental injury, anger, neutral) were compared between self-mutilation and control groups. Personalised guided imagery scripts were presented in four stages: scene setting, approach, incident, and consequence. Results depicted a decrease in psychophysiological arousal when self-mutilation participants imaged cutting themselves. A decrease in psychological response was not evident until after cutting. Responses to self-mutilation imagery were different from those demonstrated during control imagery. A comparison of responses to self-mutilation imagery between past and currently self-mutilating participants indicated no difference in the psychophysiological arousal patterns to self-mutilation imagery. A lag was evident for psychological arousal for the retrospective sample but not for the current group. These results indicated that self-mutilative behaviour is maintained by the psychophysiological and psychological tension-reducing qualities of the act. When a person is no longer engaging in the behaviour, the feelings associated with the act are open to reinterpretation.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Other health
Objective Field:Other health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Brain, KL (Ms Brain)
UTAS Author:Haines, J (Dr Janet Haines)
UTAS Author:Williams, CL (Dr Christopher Williams)
ID Code:14818
Year Published:1998
Web of Science® Times Cited:77
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:1998-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-09

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