Self-injury is typically defined as the intentional harm caused to one’s own body. This phenomenon has historically been studied mainly from a psychological perspective and has focused less on social forces related to engagement in this behavior. While research on self-injury has examined etiology extensively, there has yet to be an examination of how changes in exposure to risk and protective factors may lead to changes in self-injury habits. This research uses qualitative interview data from 16 former and current self-injurers to examine self-injury from a life-course criminological perspective (Cullen, Agnew, & Wilcox, 2014). These data allowed for identification of concepts associated with social learning theory, general strain theory, social control theory, and social support theory as important risk and protective factors associated with self-injury. Further, this identification allowed for an examination of how the application and withdrawal of these risk and protective factors led to changes in self-injury habits. Future research should seek to generalize these results and further clarify the impact of risk and protective factors across the life-course.


Self-Injury, Life-Course, Criminology, Deviance, Qualitative Research

Author Bio(s)

Thomas W. Wojciechowski is a PhD Candidate and MA sociology at the University of Florida in the Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law. His research focuses on the relationship between mental health and criminality, substance use, and prevention science. He specializes in longitudinal data analysis. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: wojci1tw@ufl.edu.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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