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Severe morbid onychophagia: the classification as self-mutilation and a proposed model of maintenance


Wells, JH and Haines, J and Williams, CL, Severe morbid onychophagia: the classification as self-mutilation and a proposed model of maintenance, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 32, (4) pp. 534-545. ISSN 0004-8674 (1998) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1046/j.1440-1614.1998.00448.x


Objectives: The aim of this review is to make a distinction between a mild and a severe form of onychophagia (nailbiting) that has not been adequately recognised in clinical research. Furthermore, the aim is to emphasise the need for greater understanding of the motivation for such self-injury as occurs in the severe form. The purpose of making the distinction is to evaluate whether a label of self-mutilation can be applied to the severe form. If this is the case, the tension-reduction model of self-mutilation can be proposed as the mechanism which may maintain the behaviour in the face of serious social and physical consequences. Method: Examination was made of the literature relating to onychophagia and to self-mutilation. Treatment studies of onychophagia were examined to evaluate the mechanisms by which the behaviour may be maintained. Results: Considering the self-mutilative nature of the severe form and the common theme of tension reduction in the literature on onychophagia, application of the tension-reduction model of self-mutilation is warranted. Conclusion: There is a need for empirical research as to the tension-reducing nature of severe onychophagia.

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:Wells, JH (Mrs Jennifer Helen Wells)
UTAS Author:Haines, J (Dr Janet Haines)
UTAS Author:Williams, CL (Dr Christopher Williams)
ID Code:14825
Year Published:1998
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:1998-08-01
Last Modified:2011-08-09

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