A literature review of deliberate self-harm

Perspect Psychiatr Care. 2008 Jul;44(3):175-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6163.2008.00172.x.


Purpose: Despite agreement across disciplines regarding the significance of deliberate self-harm (DSH), there continues to be a lack of consensus regarding what DSH is and is not. The purpose of this literature review was to determine the current state of understanding of this complex phenomenon.

Conclusions: There remains a problem of definitional ambiguity regarding DSH, and a definition derived from the literature is offered. Using Rodger's framework for the evolutionary approach to concept analysis, the attributes, antecedents, and consequences of DSH are developed.

Practice implications: Therapeutic approaches that are based on open-minded, non-judgmental listening and on harm minimization rather than abstinence may be more effective than current treatment approaches that forbid any form of DSH.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse / psychology
  • Algorithms
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / complications
  • Causality
  • Communication
  • Comorbidity
  • Consensus
  • Depersonalization / complications
  • Depression / complications
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Harm Reduction
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Impulsive Behavior / complications
  • Models, Psychological
  • Negativism
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Psychiatric Nursing / organization & administration
  • Self-Injurious Behavior* / diagnosis
  • Self-Injurious Behavior* / etiology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior* / psychology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior* / therapy
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology