Self-directed disgust, a component of self-criticism, may present an important, yet unexplored emotion in the context of nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). The aim of this study was to examine the role of self-disgust in NSSI, specifically as a potential mediator in the relations between depression and NSSI as well as sexual abuse and NSSI, and to also better understand characteristics that might differentiate recent and past self-injurers. A total of 549 college students completed measures assessing NSSI, self-disgust, depression, anxiety sensitivity, and physical and sexual abuse. Results indicated self-disgust fully mediated the relation between depressive symptoms and NSSI status and partially mediated the relation between sexual abuse and NSSI status. Additionally, compared to past self-injurers (4.6%; n = 25), recent self-injurers (6.4%; n = 35) endorsed significantly higher self-disgust and depressive symptoms. Self-disgust may be an important component in NSSI and should be addressed in treatment.
Keywords: depression; nonsuicidal self-injury; physical abuse; self-disgust; sexual abuse.