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Why Do Young People Hurt Themselves

It may seem odd, says Dr. Matthew Nock, but self-injury serves many 'functions'

Harvard researcher and psychology professor Matthew Nock, PhD, describes the latest thinking about the reasons or “functions” that might drive people to self-injury. A key insight is that self-harm can have both a “positive” effect—creating a feeling, or communicating an idea—and a “negative” effect—getting rid of unwanted emotions, or stopping an activity.

Dr. Nock has also developed tools that may aid in predicting self-injurious and suicidal behavior. Check out the tests, and help with this important research, at Project Implicit Mental Health.


Related: Help for Cutting and Other Self-Injury

How Are Self-Injury and Suicide Related?