Emotion Dysregulation in the Structure of Self-Injurious Behavior



We present the results of the research of the link between emotion regulation and self-injurious behavior. The sample consisted of 706 respondents aged 14—35 (467 female). Methods: Emotion Dysregulation Questionnaire (Polskaya, Razvaliaeva, 2017), Reasons for Self-Injury Scale (Polskaya, 2017), Coping Behavior Strategies Questionnaire (Vasserman et al., 2008), Psychological Mindedness Scale (Novikova, Kornilova, 2014), Positive and Negative Affect Scale (Osin, 2012). Results: we found out that self-injury is more frequent in females, self-injury risk is most severe at 14—21 years. Significant relationships were yielded for self-injurious behavior, emotion dysregulation, hindered awareness and access to emotions, and coping strategies — confrontation, avoidance, self-control, and responsibility. Regression analysis showed that avoidance as a strategy of emotion dysregulation mediates the influence of negative affect on self-injurious behavior; another form of emotion dysregulation — rumination — predicts the increase of negative and the decrease of positive affect. Conclusions: emotion dysregulation underlies the cycle of negative affect aggravation that leads to self-injury. Adolescence and youth are the most dangerous ages when self-injury is used for negative affect regulation.

General Information

Keywords: emotion dysregulation, self-injurious behavior, coping, negative and positive affect, psychological mindedness

Journal rubric: Empirical Researches

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/cpp.2018260405

Acknowledgements. This article was prepared with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project № 16-06-01098 “Emotional self-regulation in the structure of self-injurious behavior”.

For citation: Polskaya N.A. Emotion Dysregulation in the Structure of Self-Injurious Behavior. Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya = Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy, 2018. Vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 65–82. DOI: 10.17759/cpp.2018260405. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


  1. Vasserman L.I. et al. Metodika dlya psikhologicheskoi diagnostiki sovladayushchego povedeniya v stressovykh i problemnykh dlya lichnosti situatsiyakh: posobie dlya vrachei i meditsinskikh psikhologov [Psychological diagnostics of coping in stress-inducing and problematic situations: manual for physicians and medical psychologists]. Saint Petersburg: Psikhonevrologicheskii institut im. V.M. Bekhtereva, 2008. 35 p.
  2. Novikova M.A., Kornilova T.V. «Psikhologicheskaya razumnost’» v strukture intellektual’no-lichnostnogo potentsiala (adaptatsiya oprosnika) [“Psychological mindedness” in the structure of intellectual and personal potential (adaptation of questionnaire)]. Psikhologicheskii Zhurnal, 2014. Vol. 35 (1), pp. 95—110.
  3. Osin E.N. Izmerenie pozitivnykh i negativnykh emotsii: razrabotka russkoyazychnogo analoga metodiki PANAS [Measuring Positive and Negative Affect: Development of a Russian-language Analogue of PANAS]. Zhurnal Vysshei shkoly ekonomiki [Psychology. Journal of the Higher of Economics], 2012. Vol. 9 (4), pp. 91—110.
  4. Polskaya N.A. Zavisimost’ chastoty i kharaktera nesuitsidal’nykh samopovrezhdenii ot pola i vozrasta (v neklinicheskoi populyatsii) [Gender and age factors of self-injury frequency and characteristics in the general population]. Voprosy Psikhologii, 2015, no. 1, pp. 97—109.
  5. Polskaya N.A. Narusheniya emotsional’noi regulyatsii pri samopovrezhdayushchem povedenii [Emotion dysregulation in self-injurious behavour]. Psikhologicheskii Zhurnal, 2018. Vol. 39 (4), pp. 27—37 doi:10.31857/S020595920000067-9
  6. Polskaya N.A. Psikhologiya samopovrezhdayushchego povedeniya [The psychology of self-injurious behavior]. Moscow: Lenand, 2017. 320 р.
  7. Polskaya N.A. Samopovrezhdayushhee povedenie v klinicheskoj praktike [Selfinjurious behavior in clinical practice]. Obozrenie psikhiatrii i meditsinskoj psikhologii imeni Bekhtereva [ Review of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology named after Bekhterev], 2011, no. 2, pp. 4—8.
  8. Polskaya N.A. Fenomenologiya i funktsii samopovrezhdayushchego povedeniya pri normativnom i narushennom psikhicheskom razvitii [Phenomenology and functions of self-injurious behavior in normative and impaired mental development. Sci. (Psychology) diss.]. Moscow, 2017. 423 p.
  9. Polskaya N.A., Vlasova N.V. Self-destructive behavior in adolescence and youth. Konsul’tativnaia psikhologiia i psikhoterapiia [Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy], 2015. Vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 176—190. doi:10.17759/cpp.2015230411. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.).
  10. Polskaya N.A., Razvaliaeva A.Yu. The development of the «emotion dysregulation» questionnaire. Konsul’tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya [Counseling Psychology and Psychotherapy], 2017. Vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 71—93. doi:10.17759/cpp.2017250406. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.).
  11. Bentley K.H. et al. A functional analysis of two transdiagnostic, emotion-focused interventions on nonsuicidal self-injury. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2017. Vol. 85(6), pp. 632—646. doi:10.1037/ccp0000205
  12. Chapman A.L., Dixon-Gordon K.L. Emotional antecedents and consequences of deliberate self-harm and suicide attempts. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 2007. Vol. 37 (5), pp. 543—552. doi:10.1521/suli.2007.37.5.543
  13. Claes L. et al. The affect-regulation function of nonsuicidal self-injury in eating-disordered patients: which affect states are regulated? Comprehensive Psychiatry, 2010. Vol. 51 (4), pp. 386—392. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2009.09.001
  14. Gratz K.L., Roemer L. Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 2004. Vol. 26 (1). P. 41—54. doi:10.1023/B:JOBA.0000007455.08539.94
  15. Kamphuis J.H., Ruyling S.B., Reijntjes A.H. Testing the emotion regulation hypothesis among self-injuring females: Evidence for differences across mood states. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2007. Vol. 195 (11), pp. 912—918. doi:10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181593d89
  16. Kemperman I., Russ M.J., Shearin E. Self-injurious behavior and mood regulation in borderline patients. Journal of Personality Disorders, 1997. Vol. 11 (2), pp. 146— 157. doi:10.1521/pedi.1997.11.2.146
  17. Linehan M.M. Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press, 1993. 558 p.
  18. McKenzie K.C., Gross J.J. Nonsuicidal self-injury: an emotion regulation perspective. Psychopathology, 2014. Vol. 47 (4), pp. 207—219. doi:10.1159/000358097
  19. Neacsiu A.D., Bohus M., Linehan M.M. Dialectical Behavior Therapy: An Intervention for Emotion Dysregulation. In J.J. Gross (ed.). Handbook of Emotion Regulation. 2nd ed. New York: Guilford Press, 2014, pp. 491—507.
  20. Selby E.A. et al. Emotional cascades and self-injury: Investigating instability of rumination and negative emotion. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2013. Vol. 69 (12), pp. 1213—1227. doi:10.1002/jclp.21966
  21. Sim L. et al. Adolescent deliberate self-harm: Linkages to emotion regulation and family emotional climate. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 2009. Vol. 19 (1), pp. 75—91. doi:10.1111/j.1532-7795.2009.00582.x
  22. You J. et al. Emotional Dysregulation and Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: A Meta-Analytic Review. Neuropsychiatry (London), 2018. Vol. 8 (2), pp. 733—748. doi: 10.4172/ Neuropsychiatry.1000399
  23. Yurkowski K. et al. Emotion dysregulation mediates the influence of relationship difficulties on non-suicidal self-injury behavior in young adults. Psychiatry Research, 2015. Vol. 228 (3), pp. 871—878. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2015.05.006
  24. Zaki L.F. et al. Emotion differentiation as a protective factor against nonsuicidal self-injury in borderline personality disorder. Behavior Therapy, 2013. Vol. 44 (3), pp. 529—540. doi:10.1016/j.beth.2013.04.008

Information About the Authors

Natalia A. Polskaya, Doctor of Psychology, Associate Professor, Professor of the Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy Department, Faculty of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Moscow State University of Psychology & Education, Leading Researcher, Scientific and Practical Center for Mental Health of Children and Adolescents named after G.E. Sukhareva of the Moscow Department of Public Health, Moscow, Russia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7305-5577, e-mail: polskayana@yandex.ru



Total: 3429
Previous month: 43
Current month: 28


Total: 3030
Previous month: 32
Current month: 7