Functions of non-suicidal self-injury in adolescents and young adults with Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms

Naomi Sadeh, Esme A Londahl-Shaller, Auran Piatigorsky, Samantha Fordwood, Barbara K Stuart, Dale E McNiel, E David Klonsky, Elizabeth M Ozer, Alison M Yaeger
Psychiatry Research 2014 May 15, 216 (2): 217-22
Rates of deliberate non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) increase during adolescence and young adulthood, particularly in clinical samples, making these important developmental stages for understanding the functions of NSSI. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) symptoms also begin to emerge in adolescence, though little research has examined relationships between BPD symptoms and the functions of NSSI in youth, the primary goal of the present study. Adolescents and young adults recruited from an outpatient psychotherapy clinic (N=36) endorsed a range of NSSI functions on the Inventory of Statements about Self-Injury (Klonsky and Glenn, 2009). Participants engaged in NSSI to serve intrapersonal functions (e.g., regulate affect, punish oneself) more frequently than interpersonal functions (e.g., bond with peers, establish autonomy). As predicted, linear regression analyses indicated that BPD affective dysregulation symptoms were associated with the intrapersonal but not the interpersonal functions of NSSI. In contrast, BPD interpersonal dysfunction symptoms were differentially associated with the interpersonal rather than intrapersonal functions of NSSI. These preliminary data indicate that clusters of BPD symptoms show unique relationships with functions of NSSI in treatment-seeking adolescents and young adults, relationships that can be used to target specific functions of NSSI in treatment planning.

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