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Archivos argentinos de pediatría

Print version ISSN 0325-0075On-line version ISSN 1668-3501


AGUERO, Gonzalo; MEDINA, Viviana; OBRADOVICH, Gabriel  and  BERNER, Enrique. Self-injurious behaviors among adolescents: A qualitative study of characteristics, meanings, and contexts. Arch. argent. pediatr. [online]. 2018, vol.116, n.6, pp.394-401. ISSN 0325-0075.

Introduction. Self-injurious behaviors, such as cutting, are quickly spread and transmitted among adolescents, although it is not clear how. Our objective was to describe and analyze the social interactions occurring in relation to these behaviors. Population and methods. Descriptive, qualitative, and cross-sectional design. Population: adolescents with self-injuries detected at the Department of Adolescence between June 2015 and May 2016. Sampling was purposive and randomized until reaching information redundancy. Data were collected from audio-recorded, semi-structured interviews. Descriptive categories were developed based on personal relationships regarding self-injuries. Results. Thirty-six adolescents were included (33 girls). Age: 15.2 ± 1.9 years. Self-injuries occurred in contexts of conflict with the adult world due to tensions in the household and a neglect of the problems affecting adolescents. Skin cutting was done alone, hidden from the family but shared with peers. Among adolescents, cuts functioned as symbols for their suffering and generated strong ties of identification, belonging, and empathy. Wounds became a recognized and shared asset, around which they grouped their discourse, affection, and other representations of the moment they were living. Conclusions. Self-injuries provide a transient emotional relief; they are usually in opposition to the adult world, and strong ties of belonging and identification are developed among peers in relation to such injuries. This configuration favors concealment of such behavior from the family and its circulation among adolescents.

Keywords : Self-harming behavior, adolescent, puberty, girls.

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