Non-Suicidal Self-Injury and Eating Pathology in High School Students

Authors

  • Shana Ross PhD,

    1. McGill University
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      Shana Ross, PhD, Nancy L. Heath, PhD, and Jessica R. Toste, MA, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

  • Nancy L. Heath PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. McGill University
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      Shana Ross, PhD, Nancy L. Heath, PhD, and Jessica R. Toste, MA, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

  • Jessica R. Toste MA

    1. McGill University
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    • 2

      Shana Ross, PhD, Nancy L. Heath, PhD, and Jessica R. Toste, MA, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.


Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, McGill University, 3700 McTavish Street, Montreal QC H3A 1Y2, Canada. E-mail: nancy.heath@mcgill.ca

Abstract

Although past research has explored self-injurious behaviors and disordered eating among adults in clinical settings, little research has been conducted examining nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) and eating pathology in community samples of adolescents. Four hundred and 40 students were screened for the presence of NSSI; a prevalence rate of 13.9% was found. Those who indicated that they engaged in NSSI (n = 59) and a comparison group of non-self-injurers (n = 57) completed the Eating Disorders Inventory. Results indicate that students who engage in NSSI display significantly more eating pathology than their non-NSSI peers, including poor interoceptive awareness; difficulties with impulse regulation; an increased sense of ineffectiveness, distrust, and social insecurity; and increased bulimic tendencies and body dissatisfaction. Relationships were found between increased lifetime frequency of NSSI behaviors and poor impulse control and deficits in affective regulation. In addition, adolescents who had stopped self-injuring reported comparable rates of eating pathology as did adolescents who continued to self-injure. The theoretical connection between NSSI and eating pathology are discussed with reference to enhancing knowledge regarding the characteristics of NSSI.

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