Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) refers to purposely inflicting injury and/or physical pain on one’s body, without any suicidal intention or desire. NSSI has often been an overlooked problem, and its only recently that research has begun to uncover a better understanding of it. Evidence suggests that self-injury is frequently used as a way of coping with painful emotions, with the paradoxical report that somehow the physical pain relieves the emotional pain (Selby, Nock, & Kranzler, 2014). In the EmP lab we have published multiple studies linking emotional cascades to NSSI behavior, and we are currently conducting a daily experience study of NSSI using a smartphone app developed at Rutgers.
The EmP lab has also been examining the potential existence of a NSSI disorder, which is not currently a DSM diagnosis. Our evidence suggests that NSSI disorder may be distinct from borderline personality disorder, and that NSSI disorder may be fairly responsive to psychotherapy. We continue to investigate NSSI disorder and are proponents of including the disorder in a future version of the DSM.