I am currently obsessing on self-injury---especially among studies that doen't neccessarily include autism or intellectual disabilities. Abfh is right. There's a lot out there. It is a very common phenomena. I thought the following gave a logical reason for it--to ease bad feelings (negative affect). With a synopsis of 18 other studies, the author concludes that it helps them feel better (aka affect regulation function).
1: Clin Psychol Rev. 2007 Mar;27(2):226-39. Epub 2006 Oct 2. Links
The functions of deliberate self-injury: a review of the evidence.Klonsky ED.
Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500, United States. E.David.Klonsky@stonybrook.edu
Deliberate self-injury is defined as the intentional, direct injuring of body tissue without suicidal intent. The present article reviews the empirical research on the functions of self-injury. This literature includes self-reports of reasons for self-injuring, descriptions of the phenomenology of self-injury, and laboratory studies examining the effects of self-injury proxies on affect and physiological arousal. Results from 18 studies provide converging evidence for an affect-regulation function. Research indicates that: (a) acute negative affect precedes self-injury, (b) decreased negative affect and relief are present after self-injury, (c) self-injury is most often performed with intent to alleviate negative affect, and (d) negative affect and arousal are reduced by the performance of self-injury proxies in laboratory settings. Studies also provide strong support for a self-punishment function, and modest evidence for anti-dissociation, interpersonal-influence, anti-suicide, sensation-seeking, and interpersonal boundaries functions. The conceptual and empirical relationships among the different functions remain unclear. Future research should address the measurement, co-variation, clinical correlates, and treatment implications of different functions.
The picture? I remember Bettleheim and his comparison of autistic children and Holocaust survivors. I came across info that children who survived the Holocaust were referred to as "Les Enfants Terribles" , which was also a title of a book written in the 30's, that was made into a movie and a play...but that has nothing to do with what was said. Following is an excerpt from a website teaching children about the Holocaust from the memories of adults who were finally able to give their stories, the stories of survival, from when they were children and prisoners of Nazi camps.
They tried to resume normal lives, but they were very angry children and were called "les enfants terrible." Once they destroyed all their furniture in their dormitory. A doctor told them that it would be best for them to try and forget all that they had seen and to move on with their lives. Robbie thinks in retrospect that this was the right advice at the time. No one wanted to listen to their stories, and in any case, he felt it was too difficult to explain. Those who continued to dwell on their experiences and the fate of their families ended up in psychiatric hospitals.
One day, the survivors of the present day "bedlams", present day "death camps" may no longer be able to tell their stories. There has to be a better way. When I was raising my son, praying over him in a hope that he would change....the heavens spoke to me that it wasn't him who had to change...IT WAS ME! The kids being "treated" (little different from any other type of selfish prayer or shamanism, in some ways....) today do not need to change. We have to change how we see them.
It doesn't just happen. It's work...soul work.
I just go on and on and on, don't I?
Okay, here's the last tangent. Remember "Spit Boy", who I hope I lovingly introduced the last tome...or tomb, I'm not sure. They all seem to run together...
The one time nana-nana-nana-nana-nana-nana-nana-nana SPIT BOY! came to school without medication, he screamed almost the entire time. And I remembered this morning that on that day he kept biting himself constantly and crying. It was as if he was in a war zone, being constantly bombarded! We were used to ornery smiles. His medication was ritalin, I'm not sure what that means, but I'm pretty sure it was. How it kept him out of the war zone, I can't imagine.
You know, it is so hard to keep a focus. I hope you'll forgive me.