Document Type

Research Paper

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is the deliberate damaging of one’s body without the intention of suicide (Nock & Favazza, 2009). NSSI can cause serious medical consequences and is associated with psychological impairment or distress in day-to-day functioning. When this type of pathological behavior occurs in inpatient settings, the behavior has been known to spread from patient to patient (Taiminen, Kallio-Soukainen, Nokso-Koivisto, Kaljonen, & Helenius, 1998). Recent internet-based research has shown that online forums have become a place for people to find social connections based on pathology (Whitlock, Powers, & Eckenrode, 2006). Christakis and Fowler (2009) showed that thoughts, actions, and feelings spread in epidemic-like-patterns through social networks and have determined the patterns and properties of this type of social influence. Because of the nature of the NSSI pathology, it seems to be the case that these rules will also govern the spread of NSSI contagion and therefore, these findings can be used to intervene by predicting who is most at risk and providing them with “inoculating” resources.

Keywords

Epidemics; Internet; Non-suicidal self-injury; Self-mutilation; Social contagion; Social influence

Disciplines

Clinical Psychology

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