Early maladaptive schemas in young people who self-injure

Annemarie Nicol, Anita S. Mak, Kristen Murray, Phillip S. Kavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is emerging evidence that early maladaptive schemas (EMS) may be a cognitive vulnerability factor in nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI). The current study sought to examine the relationship between EMS and NSSI history, and whether this is moderated by gender, in a community youth sample. Method: Participants were 403 Australian secondary and university students aged between 16 and 25 years, who completed a survey of NSSI history, EMS, and general emotional distress. Results: Logistic regression analysis indicated that being female, depression, and EMS scores were useful for differentiating between youth reporting NSSI history and those who did not. High levels of Defectiveness/Shame and Abandonment/Instability schema scores, and low levels of Emotional Inhibition schema scores, were associated with NSSI history. Gender did not moderate the relationships between these EMS scores and NSSI history. Conclusions: Present results suggest that aspects of the schema domain of Disconnection and Rejection are important for identifying NSSI history beyond young people's emotional distress. This provides researchers and clinicians with an opportunity to better target key EMS, especially beliefs about self-defectiveness and feelings of shame, that may be driving the regulatory function of self-injury among youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1745-1762
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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