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Recurrent self-injurious behavior in forensic patients


A high prevalence of self-injurious behavior has been reported in the forensic psychiatric population and the correctional psychiatric population. Severely and recurrently self-destructive patients pose great therapeutic challenges. The present study examined forensic patients who engaged in multiple acts of self-injury while hospitalized and compared them to forensic patients who engaged in a single act of self-injury. The groups did not differ on demographic or diagnostic measures, but the recurringly self-injurious patients were more frequently and more severely aggressive against others (verbally as well as physically), and required longer hospitalization. The results are interpreted to suggest that the high cost of recurring self-injury in human and financial terms may be reduced by a strategy of early and vigorous intervention.

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Correspondence to Dr. Marc Hillbrand Ph.D..

Additional information

Dr. Hillbrand is Unit Director, Intermediate Treatment Unit, Whiting Forensic Institute, and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Young is Service Chief, Intermediate Treatment and Diagnostic Units, Whiting Forensic Institute, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Krystal is Director of the Schizophrenia Biological Research Project, West Haven V.A. Medical Center, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine.

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Hillbrand, M., Young, J.L. & Krystal, J.H. Recurrent self-injurious behavior in forensic patients. Psych Quart 67, 33–45 (1996).

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  • Public Health
  • Therapeutic Challenge
  • Diagnostic Measure
  • Financial Term
  • Vigorous Intervention