Self-injurious behavior: differential diagnosis and functional differentiation

Compr Psychiatry. 2007 Mar-Apr;48(2):137-44. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2006.10.009. Epub 2007 Jan 2.


Although often used as synonyms, "self-injury" and "self-harm" may refer to different behaviors with different meanings. Because the literature is quite confusing in this respect, we propose a more specific delineation of the notion of self-injurious behavior (SIB), differentiated from other self-harming behaviors. For this purpose, we present a flowchart for differential diagnosis. This brings us to the question: are we dealing here with a sign of pathology or a meaningful behavior? We compare the structuralist approach, in which SIB is viewed as either a syndrome or a symptom, with the functionalist approach, focusing on the psychosocial functions of SIB.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Communication
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Self Mutilation / diagnosis
  • Self Mutilation / psychology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / diagnosis*
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology
  • Social Adjustment
  • Software Design