Living with Self-Injury: A New Direction in Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Research

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School of Psychology, Massey University
Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) has become an increasing area of research over the last two decades, however this has been limited to capturing prevalence rates and discovering intents and purposes. Recent research found that nearly 50% of New Zealand teenagers will try it at least once, and in the western world around 15% of teenagers and young adults will do it repeatedly. Most of the research in this area has been focused on the injury or harm part of NSSI, with little focus on the effects of NSSI on identity or life experiences. NSSI itself can induce guilt and shame, increasing likelihood of repetition, giving it a cyclic nature. Both the physical scars and identity as a “self-injurer” are surrounded by secrecy and stigma and tend to be managed or hidden, with implications for social relations.The current paper briefly reviews past research on NSSI, before discussing possibilities for future research seeking to address the current imbalance. The proposed research focuses not on the NSSI itself, but on its wider effects and how living with NSSI is experienced, both for the individual self-injuring and for the people around them.
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Non-suicidal self-injury, Self injurious behaviour, Identity, Stigma, Social relations