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Nonsuicidal Self-Injury

  1. E. David Klonsky

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0609

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Klonsky, E. D. 2010. Nonsuicidal Self-Injury. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. Stony Brook University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) refers to the deliberate destruction of one's own body tissue without suicidal intent and for purposes not socially sanctioned. Although terms such as self-mutilation and deliberate self-harm have also been used for this behavior, NSSI has increasingly become the term of choice. Common examples of NSSI include skin-cutting, burning, scratching, needle-sticking, rubbing against rough surfaces, hitting or banging body parts, and interfering with wound healing. In general, behaviors associated with eating disorders (e.g., binging or purging) and substance disorders (e.g., alcohol or drug use) are not considered NSSI, because they are not accompanied by specific intent to physically damage one's body tissue. Similarly, most cases of tattooing and body piercing are not considered NSSI, because they are socially sanctioned forms of body decoration or artistic expression. Importantly, NSSI can be distinguished from suicidal behavior. Unlike suicide attempts, NSSI is not performed with the intent to die, and the injuries caused by NSSI are rarely life-threatening or medically severe (Klonksy & Muehlenkamp, 2007).


  • self-injury;
  • self-mutilation;
  • self-harm;
  • parasuicide;
  • borderline personality disorder;
  • emotion regulation