Parental conceptions of self-mutilation among Finnish adolescents

J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2008 Apr;15(3):212-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2007.01214.x.


The purpose of this paper is to describe self-mutilation from the viewpoint of parents of self-mutilating Finnish adolescents. Four parents of self-mutilating adolescents were interviewed in depth. Qualitative content analysis was applied. Four main categories emerged: the phenomenon of self-mutilation, factors contributing to self-mutilation, the purposes of self-mutilation and sequels of self-mutilation. Factors contributing to self-mutilation could be divided into those relating to the adolescent and those relating to the family, especially the mother. The purposes of self-mutilation were purposes relating to the adolescent and those relating to others, while sequels of self-mutilation could be divided into sequels for the adolescent and those for the parents. Sequels of self-mutilation for the adolescent could be further divided into sequels for the adolescent herself and for the relationship with significant others, including parents, siblings and peers, and sequels in relation to healthcare staff. While knowledge of self-mutilation is inadequate among parents, it evokes strong negative emotions when it occurs in their own family. Self-mutilation should be raised by healthcare professionals and discussed in health promotion or in parents' meetings at schools.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Mutilation / psychology*
  • Self Mutilation / rehabilitation