|Institution:||University of Tasmania|
|Keywords:||Non-suicidal self-injury; pain; dissociation; trauma|
|Full text PDF:||http://eprints.utas.edu.au/18599/1/Whole-Dykes-thesis.pdf|
The present study investigated the mechanisms of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and the differences in the experience of pain during the act. In particular, the study investigated the potential explanations as to why some individuals experience pain during NSSI whereas others report an absence of pain during the act. Of particular interest was the impact of dissociative experiences and a history of trauma on the experience of pain during NSSI. A personalised, staged guided imagery methodology was employed to assess the psychological and psychophysiological reactions of 20 individuals with a history of NSSI. Furthermore, a cold pressor test was used to investigate individual‟s responses to painful stimuli. Unexpectedly, both individuals who do and do not feel pain during the act experienced a consistent pattern and strength of tension reduction following NSSI. Additionally, when investigating responses to painful stimuli in individuals who do and do not feel pain during NSSI, there were no significant differences in threshold, tolerance or perception of pain. When considering the impact of dissociation on the experience of pain during NSSI (n = 30), contrary to the hypothesis, there were no differences in the strength or frequency of individuals‟ dissociative experiences. The relationship between trauma and pain during NSSI was then investigated in 52 individuals. It was found that individuals who experience a lack of pain during NSSI reported significantly more childhood abuse and trauma, higher levels of neglect and punishment, and a more negative home environment than individuals who feel pain during the act. The results add to the literature on, and provide interesting insights into the complex relationship between childhood abuse and trauma, NSSI and pain.