August 1967

Self-Mutilation in Schizophrenic Children

Author Affiliations

Bronx, NY
From the Henry Ittleson Center for Child Research, Bronx, NY.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(2):234-244. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730260106015

SELF-MUTILATION has been observed as a frequent occurrence in a group of schizophrenic children living in a residential treatment center, and has stimulated many questions regarding its significance and etiology. The types of self-mutilation encountered most frequently were self-scratching, self-hitting, self-biting, self-pinching, headbanging, and hairpulling. These children did not respond to their self-inflicted injuries with appropriate concern and expression of distress. Typically, they failed to acknowledge the obviously painful quality of these acts, and at times even seemed to derive pleasure from them. Historically, the onset of the self-mutilation in most of these children dated back to early childhood. In addition, the parents often reported an antecedent history of infantile rocking and headbanging. These clinical observations raised questions concerning possible differences between the self-mutilators and nonself-mutilators in the schizophrenic group, which could account for the presence of this trait. It was

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