Course Description: This course is based upon material published in the American Psychological Association and is available as an open access article.
Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), which refers to self-directed destruction of bodily tissue in the absence of suicidal intent (e.g., cutting, carving, burning) is a widespread health concern. Recent research suggests that individuals who engage in NSSI have heightened tolerances for pain relative to noninjurers, but little attention has been given to how self-injurers overcome the pain involved in self-directed injury. Understanding the process through which self-injurers tolerate pain, however, may have important implications for prevention and intervention efforts, as heightened tolerance for pain has been associated with increased suicidal risk. In the present study, we addressed this gap in the literature by examining whether self-punishment motivations for engaging in NSSI were associated with increased pain thresholds and tolerances among 82 undergraduate students (i.e., 31 self-injurers with self-punishment motivations, 25 self-injurers without self-punishment motivations, 26 age-matched controls). Following a stressful task, self-injurers who engaged in NSSI to self-punish tolerated pain significantly longer and rated this pain as less aversive than self-injurers without self-punishment motivations and the comparison group of noninjurers. Our findings, therefore, suggest that willingness to tolerate painful stimulation may be an important part of the self-injury experience among individuals who engage in NSSI to self-punish. Moreover, our findings suggest that motivational factors underlying NSSI should be integrated into theories on the link between NSSI and pain sensitivity
This course on nonsuicidal self-injury is designed for social workers, professional counselors, psychologists, nurses, and substance abuse counselors, who do clinical work. This course is appropriate for beginning, intermediate and advanced level practitioners who wish to develop their understanding of pain tolerance among nonsuicidal self-injurers. The course material includes a brief literature review of the study conducted addressing the gap in literature by examining whether self-punishment motivations for engaging in NSSI, and how they are associated with increased suicidal risk.. It may also be useful for licensed clinicians who require clinical continuing education courses for license renewal.
Authors: Hamza, Willoughby, Armiento
Learning Objectives: This course will provide the practitioner with detailed information regarding nonsuicidal self-injurers. Specifically, a professional will:
Describe how self-injurers overcome the pain involved in self-directed injury.
Identify the process through which self-injurers tolerate pain and its link to suicide,
Recognize the association between NSSI and pain.
Citation: Hamza, C. A., Willoughby, T., Armiento, J., (2014). A Laboratory Examination of Pain Threshold and Tolerance among Nonsuicidal Self-Injurers with and Without Self-Punishing Motivations. American Psychological Association. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/arc0000008