The function of self-harm behavior in a forensic population

Int J Offender Ther Comp Criminol. 2005 Apr;49(2):131-42. doi: 10.1177/0306624X04271130.


This article examines the functions of self-injurious behavior (SIB) in forensic populations. The cases of four individual offenders who have engaged in SIB are presented. These cases depict the four main functions of self-harm behaviors including (a) suicidal intent, (b) manipulation of the environment, (c) emotion regulation, and (d) a response to psychotic delusions or hallucinations. Assessment and treatment implications are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Behavior Control
  • Delusions / diagnosis
  • Delusions / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Hallucinations / diagnosis
  • Hallucinations / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology