The Physical Results of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: The Meaning Behind the Scars

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The psychological meaning of scars from nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) has been examined in case studies, but descriptive studies are needed to better understand the meaning of NSSI scars. College students with NSSI scars (n = 49) completed questionnaires concerning the interpretive meaning of their scars, emotions associated with their scars, and clinical symptoms. Levels of scar-related growth were positively correlated with interpersonal functions of NSSI (e.g., autonomy, self-care) and negatively correlated with likelihood of future self-injury, self-disgust, self-injury regret, and self-injury scar regret. Conversely, higher levels of scar-related shame were associated with higher likelihood of future self-injury, depressive and borderline personality disorder symptoms, self-disgust, NSSI scar-related regret, and intrapersonal functions of NSSI (e.g., marking distress, self-punishment). Individuals finding shame or guilt may be a more clinically severe group than those finding growth from their scars.

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