The role of difficulty in identifying and describing feelings in non-suicidal self-injury behaviour (NSSI): Associations with perceived attachment quality, stressful life events, and suicidal ideation

Cerutti, Rita and Zuffianò, Antonio and Spensieri, Valentina (2018) The role of difficulty in identifying and describing feelings in non-suicidal self-injury behaviour (NSSI): Associations with perceived attachment quality, stressful life events, and suicidal ideation. Frontiers in Psychology. ISSN 1664-1078 (Accepted for Publication)

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Abstract

Objective: Core alexithymic features, such as the difficulty in identifying and describing feelings, are associated with poor attachment styles and emotional trauma, which influence the capacity to regulate affect. Additionally, emotional regulation has been found to be the most commonly identified function associated with non-suicidal self-injury behavior (NSSI)in adolescents as they attempt to modulate strong emotions. However, few studies have examined the link between difficulty in identifying and describing feelings (core components of alexithymia), NSSI behaviors, quality of attachment, life stressors and suicidal ideation in healthy early adolescents. Consequently, this study aims to investigate these constructs and the relationship among them in a large non-clinical sample of adolescents. Methods: Seven hundred and nine middle school students (50.4% males), aged 10-15 years (M = 12.6; SD = 1.06) were involved in this study. In order to investigate the variables considered in the study, the following measures were administered: the Deliberate Self-Harm Inventory exploring non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors; the Alexithymia Questionnaire for Children examining difficulty in identifying and describing feelings; the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment assessing the quality of parental and peer attachment; the Life Stressor Checklist-Revised outlining stressful/traumatic events and the Children's Depression Inventory evaluating suicidal ideation. Results: We found significantly positive relationships among difficulty in identifying and describing feelings, NSSI behaviors, stressful events, and suicidal ideation. Data indicated a significant negative association of difficulty in identifying and describing feelings with quality of attachment to parents and peers. Further findings highlighted that difficulty in identifying and describing feelings significantly mediated the effect of quality of attachment (parent and peer) on NSSI and suicidal ideation. Conclusion: The ability to identify and describing feelings is important to managing emotional expression and understanding the feelings of others, both crucial in attaining successful interpersonal relationships. Our data revealed that, while controlling for stressful life events, low levels of attachment may increase adolescents’ difficulty in identifying and describing their own feelings, which in turn may increase the risk of both NSSI and suicidal ideation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. it is reproduced with permission.
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Antonio Zuffiano
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2018 12:14
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2018 12:14
URI: http://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2396

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