August 1960

Adolescent and Young Adult Self-Mutilation Incidents in a General Psychiatric Hospital

Author Affiliations

From the Institute for Psychosomatic and Psychiatric Research and Training of Michael Reese Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;3(2):194-204. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.01710020078010

Introduction  This paper presents the description and analysis of a hospital "natural phenomenon" involving a series of incidents of selfmutilation by a group of 12 young patients (ages 14-22). There were a variety of self-mutilation techniques, and the results ranged in severity from a mild scratch to deep lacerations made with razor blades that required sutures. Isolated incidents of self-mutilation had occurred periodically during the eight-year history of the institution. But an episode of incidents in which eight patients were involved over a three-day period, followed by numerous single and group self-mutilations (over a nine-month period, November, 1958, to August, 1959), created a novel situation which suggested this study. There were approximately 90 incidents of self-mutilation in the hospital during this time period, of which about 90% were attributed to patients included in our study, these making up only 10% of the total hospital population at

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