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The self-mutilative nature of severe Onychophagia: A comparison with self-cutting


Wells, JH and Haines, J and Williams, CL and Brain, KL, The self-mutilative nature of severe Onychophagia: A comparison with self-cutting, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 44, (1) pp. 40-47. ISSN 0706-7437 (1999) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1177/070674379904400105


Objective: To investigate the psychophysiological pattern associated with severe and mild onychophagia, and to compare this pattern with that demonstrated by previous research on self-cutting. Method: Comparisons between the psychophysiological responses accompanying 3 behaviours were made using a guided imagery methodology. Imagery of nail-related, skin-cutting, and neutral events were presented in 4 stages. Results: Experiment 1 distinguished participants exhibiting severe and mild onychophagia by the severity and frequency of nail-biting and by the pattern of psychophysiological response across the stages. Experiment II indicated that the change in psychophysiological arousal accompanying severe onychophagia was not as dramatic as that demonstrated for skin-cutting. The behaviour seems to be less effective in reducing tension. Conclusion: Severe onychophagia appears to manage the level of tension experienced by an individual, instead of dramatically reducing it in times of crisis. Such a process is consistent with that demonstrated in individuals with obsessive- compulsive disorder.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Clinical and health psychology
Research Field:Health psychology
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Wells, JH (Mrs Jennifer Helen Wells)
UTAS Author:Haines, J (Dr Janet Haines)
UTAS Author:Williams, CL (Dr Christopher Williams)
UTAS Author:Brain, KL (Ms Brain)
ID Code:17380
Year Published:1999
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:1999-08-01
Last Modified:2000-05-13

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