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In Their Own Words: Perspectives on Nonsuicidal Self-Injury Disorder Among Those With Lived Experience

Lewis, Stephen P. PhD; Bryant, Lindsay A. BAH; Schaefer, Brittany M. BAH; Grunberg, Paul H. BAH

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: October 2017 - Volume 205 - Issue 10 - p 771–779
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000733
Original Articles

Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a condition warranting further study. Although potential advantages and disadvantages regarding this prospect have been documented, no study has examined the perspectives of those who self-injure. The goal of the current study was to give voice to these views. Seventy-six participants with an NSSI history completed quantitative and qualitative measures assessing perspectives about NSSI being included as a DSM disorder. Findings revealed mixed views overall. Thematic analysis of open-ended responses highlighted several unique advantages (i.e., enhanced understanding of NSSI, validation of the NSSI experience, facilitation of NSSI treatment, encouragement of NSSI help-seeking, reduction of NSSI stigma) and disadvantages (i.e., exacerbation of NSSI stigma, diminishment of underlying concerns). These findings speak to the need to consider the perceptions of those with lived NSSI experience; future directions and implications are discussed.

Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Send reprint requests to Stephen P. Lewis, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1. E-mail:

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