The functions of nonsuicidal self-injury: Converging evidence for a two-factor structure

E. David Klonsky*, Catherine R. Glenn, Denise M. Styer, Thomas M. Olino, Jason J. Washburn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


Research has identified more than a dozen functions of non-suicidal self-injury (NSI), but the conceptual and empirical overlap among these functions remains unclear. The present study examined the structure of NSI functions in two large samples of patients receiving acute-care treatment for NSI. Two different measures of NSI functions were utilized to maximize generalizability of findings: one sample (n = 946) was administered the Inventory of Statements About Self-injury (ISAS; Klonsky and Glenn in J Psychopathol Behav Assess 31:215-219, 2009), and a second sample (n = 211) was administered the Functional Assessment of Self-Mutilation (FASM; Lloyd et al. in Self-mutilation in a community sample of adolescents: descriptive characteristics and provisional prevalence rates. Poster session at the annual meeting of the Society for Behavioral Medicine, New Orleans, LA, 1997). Exploratory factor analyses revealed that both measures exhibited a robust two-factor structure: one factor represented Intrapersonal functions, such as affect regulation and anti-dissociation, and a second factor represented Social functions, such as interpersonal influence and peer bonding. In support of the two-factor structure's construct validity, the factors exhibited a pattern of correlations with indicators of NSI severity that was consistent with past research and theory. Findings have important implications for theory, research, and treatment. In particular, the two-factor framework should guide clinical assessment, as well as future research on the implications of NSI functions for course, prognosis, treatment, and suicide risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number44
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 28 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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