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Effects of Childhood Experiences on Self Injurious Behavior in Adulthood Report

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2019

The four articles investigate different aspects concerning how incidents that one went through as a child may have an effect on adult behavior that includes inflicting pain and injury on oneself. Gratz, Conrad and Roemer (2002) examines the possibility of issues for premeditated personal hurt among university going scholars.

Some of the concepts that are associated with self infliction of harm according to Gratz are not limited to: unsteady affection, infancy severance, expressive disregard, sexual exploitation and disassociation gender orientation also affects how men and women react differently to these situations.

One gender may become severely affected by the above causes than the other gender. The fact that men and women react differently in such conditions brings about the issues of gender differences when it comes to the topic of inflicting harm on oneself and for different reasons.

According to Fleige, Lee, Grimm & Klapp (2009) self injurious behavior with no intention of killing oneself is a grave health concern and it is looked upon as a medical spectacle by itself. Bodily self inflicted harm is possible at any age to any person but the rates are higher when it comes to adolescents and adults.

The reasons as to why people turn to inflicting harm on themselves according to Fleige are: environment surroundings, character, childhood sexual abuse, nervousness, misery and assertiveness, low expression of emotions, low sense of worth and dissociation.

The combination of feelings that individuals experience and their surroundings may make self harm go a notch higher as the surroundings are a factor of how individuals feel and handle their emotions.

In reference to Briere and Gil (1998) self mutilation is a behavior used by individuals as a scape goat. This in simpler terms means that individuals turn to self mutilation to escape the reality of disassociation, emotional anguish and post traumatic stress.

Childhood sexual abuse was found to be a major reason leading to self mutilation. This tells us the main reasons of self mutilation according to Briere and Gill (1998) are to flee from ones day to day life and create a world for themselves where the individuals can focus all their attention in their mutilations while at the same time blocking out their surroundings and the simple truth about their lives.

Bessel et al (1991) suggested that grownups who take part in self damaging behavior have in the past undergone trauma and had interrupted care from their parents or care providers.

This study was based on the links between infancy distress, interrupted affection and personal demolition through the use of data collected previously and probable data. This study concludes that causes of self damaging behavior have strong relations to incidents that happened to one as a child (Bessel, Perry & Herman 1991).

Each study had its own hypotheses that were being researched on. The following were the hypotheses of each of the studies. Gratz et al (2002) based their study on the probability of reasons for intentional self infliction of harm among university attending students. The hypotheses were:

H1-what are the factors that make college students delibaretly inflict harm on themselves.

H2- how often do these factors occur?

H3-what can be done to reduce the prevalence of the risk factors that push college student’s to turn to self harm.

Fliege et al (2009) study was based on health issues that are related to and largely concerned with the behavior of self harm. There hypotheses were:

H4-is conscious self harm a disease or a severe medical challenge?

H5- can conscious self harm be classified as and studied on its own as a clinical phenomenon? Briere and Gil (1998) based their study on the reasons as to why individuals inflict harm on themselves consciously. Their hypotheses were:

H6- which gender engages in this type of behavior more?

H7-what makes individuals engage in self mutilation. Bessel et al (1991) based their study on childhood sources of self destructive behavior. They used the following hypotheses:

H8- what is the relationship between childhood incidents and self destructive behavior

H9- is self destructive behavior in adult hood encouraged by traumatizing occurrences that took place in ones early life.

In order for the researches to prove their hypotheses and come up with concrete answers to the questions and suggestions above they put different methods to use so as to have a vast area of knowledge covered and have a strong base for their hypotheses.

Fleige, Lee, Grimm & Klapp (2009) used recorded German psychological literature data to support their study and only aimed at finding relevant information that was concerned with bodily harm with the intention of taking ones life and information that concerned bodily harm without the intention if taking ones life. Their study also made use of researches on suicidal tendencies that only focused on non suicidal self destruction.

Briere and Gil (1998) put to use the general population samples, clinical groups self recognized self mutilators. The general populations were mailed questionnaires that they were to fill concerning the subject matter of self mutilation.

Clinical samples were based on analysis of victimization history and divided in relevance to self-report history of sexual and physical abuse. The self mutilating sample was taken through adverts in popular magazines and publications focusing on child abuse survivors which were the handed out at abuse-survivor conferences.

Bessel et al (1991) sample were seventy four individuals who had personality disorders or bi-polar disorders were put under observation for an average of four years and observed for self destructive behavior not limited to suicide trials, self damage and eating disorders. These characteristics were then connected with independent acquired self reports of childhood trauma interruptions of parental care and dissociative observable facts.

Different individuals were sampled in the studies and each study had their samples as follows: Gratz, Conrad & Roemer (2002) used a voluntary based sample of one hundred fifty nine students who were majoring in psychology in one university that was multiracial and multicultural however twenty six of these chooses participants were not used as their information was lacking.

Therefore only one hundred and thirty three students whose age was in the range of eighteen to forty nine years with a mean of22.73 years were used. Out of this sample 67% were female, 62% were white, 18% were Asian, 10% African American, 5% were Hispanic, 5% were of other races, 83% of the sample were single and 96% were heterosexual.

This shows that the sample contained a variety of people who were of different ages, races, and different sexual orientation. These participants were fully informed of what the study was about and what it entailed afterwards the participants were debriefed and offered contacts that could be of help to people who took part in self harm behavior.

Fliege et al (2009) used written literature from previous years and their samples were based on fifty nine original papers that were written on correlating factors that led to conscious self damaging behavior. Briere and Gill (1998) had different samples for each of the areas they were studying: for the general population sample the sample consisted of: a total 927 subjects and a return rate of 64%.

The mean age of the full sample was 46 years range= 18-90. Most subjects were married 56% followed by separated or divorced 17% and single 18%. Of the total sample, 50% were male, and 75% were white, 11% black, 7% Hispanic, 3% Asian, 2% Native American, and 2% “other.” The two most common income levels were $10,000-$ 19,999 20% and$20,000-$29,999 19%.

The clinical sample consisted of a total of 390 individuals: 203 women and 43 men recruited by ten therapists from their outpatient clinical practices, and 101 females and 43 males from two general psychiatric inpatient units. The mean age of subjects in the combined clinical sample (inpatient and outpatient) was 36 years (range=18-58. Three hundred fifteen 81% were white, 12% Hispanic, 6% black, and five 1% Asian.

The self mutilating sample consisted of: a final sample of 93. Of the 93 subjects, 89 96% were female. The average age was 35 years and the modal race was white 91%. Marital status was well-represented across three groups: single 41%, married 31%, and separated/divorced 27%. Modal education was some college/university 31%, followed by an undergraduate degree 20%.

Bessel et al (1991) sample comprised of young adults between the ages of 18-39 years and was gathered from clinical settings at Cambridge Hospital form adverts in local dailies and the local probation department.

These four articles though extensively research on the topics they are concerned with; they leave out the fact that self mutilation behavior may be caused by other reasons other that those associated with childhood trauma as all four cases indicate. These four cases emphasize on the fact that childhood trauma is the leading major cause of self harm but there may be other underlying reasons that may cause these behaviors.

The good thing about these researches however is the fact that some of the samples taken were normal people who do no t have any history of psychological problems this shows us that not only people with psychological issues can have such characteristics but also normal people can participate in these activities.

These studies give us a wide range of knowledge when it comes to assessing why, how and who engages in such detrimental behaviors and also they give suggestions on how such people can be helped to become better and stop hurting themselves willing.

Reference list

Bessel, V. A., Perry, C. & Herman, L. J. (1991). Childhood Origins of Self-Destructive Behavior. American Psychiatric Association, 148, 1665-1667.

Briere, J. & Gil, E. (1998). Self-Mutilation in Clinical and General Population Samples: Prevalence, Correlates, and Functions. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 609-620.

Fleige, H. Lee, J-R., Grimm, A, Klapp, F. B. (2009). Risk Factors and Correlates of Deliberate self-harm Behavior: A systematic Review. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, vol. 66, 477-493.

Gratz, L. K., Conrad, D. S. & Roemer, L. (2002). Risk Factors for Deliberate Self-Harm Among College Students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Vol. 72, No. 1,128-140.

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