Is NSSI a Disorder?
The short answer is no, NSSI is not a disorder; however, in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association published the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which included Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Disorder (NSSI-D) as a condition for further study. ISSS was consulted on the development of proposed criteria for NSSI-D.
There are currently six diagnostic criteria, and ISSS members continue to be involved in research to improve the reliability and validity of these criteria.
The first criterion relates to the frequency of self-injury. To meet this criterion, self-injury must have occurred on at least five days during the previous 12 months.
The second criterion relates to the reasons for engaging in self-injury. To meet this criterion, self-injury must have occurred for one or more of the following reasons:
To reduce negative thoughts or emotions
To manage interpersonal difficulties
To induce a positive state
There are several components captured by the third criterion. To meet this criterion, self-injury must meet one of more of the following:
Be preceded by:
negative thoughts or emotions
conflict with others
Involve preoccupation with self-injury that is difficult to resist
Involve recurrent thoughts about self-injury
This is an exclusion criterion, and stipulates that the self-injurious behaviours must not be socially sanctioned. Therefore, behaviours that cause injury but are socially acceptable, such as piercing or body modification, are excluded.
As with other disorders outlined in the DSM, to meet this criterion, the self-injury must cause distress or interfere with an individual's quality of life.
To meet the final criterion, self-injury must not be explained by another psychological disorder.
How Prevalent is NSSI-D?
In with the suggestions put forth in the DSM-5, a lot of research has been conducted to determine how common NSSI-D might be. What the data show us so far is that