The Relationship of Psychological Trauma and Dissociative and Posttraumatic Stress Disorders to Nonsuicidal Self-Injury and Suicidality: A Review

We reviewed research on the relationship between (a) exposure to psychological trauma and (b) nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidality (suicidal ideation [SI] and suicide attempts [SA]) in individuals with dissociative disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The review provides a context for the special issue of the Journal of Trauma & Dissociation on these topics. Exposure to childhood sexual abuse is the most consistent traumatic antecedent of self-harm, although traumatic violence in childhood (particularly physical abuse) and adulthood (particularly domestic violence) and exposure to multiple types of traumatic stressors also are associated with NSSI and SI/SA. Dissociative disorders and PTSD are consistently associated with increased NSSI and SA/SI. There is preliminary cross-sectional evidence that dissociation and posttraumatic stress disorders may mediate the relationship between psychological trauma and NSSI and SI/SA. Research on emotion dysregulation as a potential cross-cutting mechanism linking dissociation, PTSD, and self-harm is also reviewed. We conclude with a discussion of implications for clinical practice and future directions for scientific research.

Julian D. Ford, Jennifer M. Gómez | 2015
In: Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, ISSN 1529-9732 | 16 | 3 | 232-271
In: Special Issue: Self Injury and Suicidality: The Impact of Trauma and Dissociation