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Journal Article


Lear MK, Wilkowski BM, Pepper CM. Behav. Ther. 2019; 50(5): 1002-1012.


University of Wyoming.


(Copyright © 2019, Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






The Defective Self Model of self-injury (Hooley, Ho, Slater, & Lockshin, 2010) asserts that individuals choose to self-injure to gratify the desire for self-punishment associated with a self-critical cognitive style. Specifically, self-injury is used to regulate negative self-directed thoughts and emotions and is made accessible via the belief that the individual deserves punishment. This study sought to test primary assumptions of the Defective Self Model using a 2-week daily diary protocol. It was hypothesized that trait self-criticism would predict daily self-injury urge intensity and behaviors directly, as well as indirectly, through daily thoughts about deserving punishment. We also posited that guilt would predict self-injury urge intensity and behaviors beyond sadness, hostility, and fear. Support for primary hypotheses was mixed. Self-criticism did not directly predict self-injury outcomes, but did indirectly predict urge intensity through daily thoughts about punishment. Daily guilt predicted self-injury urge intensity beyond daily sadness, hostility and fear and was the only type of negative affect associated with self-injury behavior.

RESULTS are primarily contextualized through a social cognitive lens in which self-injury urge is precipitated by the activation of a self-critical schema in daily life. Alternatively, self-criticism may serve as a gateway to initial self-injury but lack the sensitivity to predict individual self-injury episodes. Treatments designed to reduce self-critical thoughts and bolster self-compassion may decrease self-injury urge intensity, thereby affecting the frequency of self-injury episodes.

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Language: en


daily diary; defective self model; non-suicidal self-injury; self-criticism; self-punishment


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