Thresholds and Tolerance of Physical Pain Among Young Adults Who Self-Injure
Prevalence rates of nonsuicidal self-injury among college students range from 17% to 38%. Research indicates that individuals with borderline personality disorder who self-injure sometimes report an absence of pain during self-injury. Furthermore, self-injury in the absence of pain has been associated with more frequent suicide attempts. The present study examined pain thresholds and tolerance among 44 college students (11 who engaged in self-injury and 33 who did not). Pain thresholds and tolerance were measured using an algometer pressure device that was used to produce pain in previous laboratory research. Participants who engaged in self-injury had a higher pain tolerance than those who did not. In addition, participants who engaged in self-injury rated the pain as less intense than participants who did not. ANCOVAs revealed that depression was associated with pain rating and pain tolerance.