Personality functioning and attachment in adolescent patients with NSSI

(Martin Fuchs, MD, Manuela Gander, PhD, and Prof. Kathrin Sevecke)

With prevalence rates of more than 50%, non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) represents a frequent phenomenon in child and adolescent psychiatric settings. As clinicians we are increasingly challenged to provide support and care to these vulnerable young individuals. In our clinic we experienced that NSSI behaviour carry heavy psychosocial and psychological burdens and is related to poorer outcomes. In particular, adolescents reporting high levels of relational trauma and impairments in personality functioning are at an increased risk for engaging in severe and prolonged NSSI behavior. This often results in greater symptom severity, worse therapeutic compliance and higher drop-out rates.  Our research focuses on attachment trauma and personality pathology to advance our knowledge of NSSI behaviour from adolescence to adulthood. We aim to develop more effective and efficient treatments for psychiatric patients with NSSI that support adolescents to face traumatic aspects related to their attachment status and their maladaptive personality functioning.