The deliberate self-harm syndrome

Am J Psychiatry. 1983 Jul;140(7):867-72. doi: 10.1176/ajp.140.7.867.


Recent research has differentiated several distinct classes of self-destructive behavior. This paper describes the clinical characteristics of one class, the deliberate self-harm syndrome. Analysis of 56 published case reports of self-harm revealed a typical pattern of onset in late adolescence, multiple recurrent episodes, low lethality, harm deliberately inflicted upon the body, and extension of the behavior over many years. Since the clinical characteristics of the deliberate self-harm syndrome differ substantially from those of other classes of self-destructive behavior, the authors propose that DSM-IV classify deliberate self-harm as a separate diagnostic syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Female
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manuals as Topic
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Self Mutilation / classification
  • Self Mutilation / diagnosis*
  • Self Mutilation / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Syndrome