Self-mutilation among male patients with alcohol dependency: the role of dissociation

Compr Psychiatry. 2008 Sep-Oct;49(5):489-95. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2008.02.006. Epub 2008 Mar 28.


The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of self-mutilative behavior with dissociative experiences among men who are alcohol dependent. Participants were 176 inpatients consecutively admitted to an alcohol dependency treatment center. Dissociative Experiences Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Symptom Checklist-Revised, and Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test were conducted to all participants. A sizable proportion of patients (29.0%) reported self-mutilation (SM). Childhood abuse, younger age, early onset of alcoholism, and dissociative taxon membership predicted SM. The overall severity of clinical condition and the frequency of suicide attempts among those who reported SM were higher than those of the remaining patients. The Dissociative Experiences Scale-Taxon item "auditory verbal hallucinations" and the Symptom Checklist-Revised dimension "hostility" were predictors of SM. There is a complex relationship between dissociation, alcohol use, and SM. Increased awareness among clinicians on this relationship may increase the effectiveness of treatment interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology*
  • Hallucinations / psychology
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology