Paradoxical Behaviors:  Manifestation of the Self?

Self-Destructive Behaviors and Self-Esteem

 

Patrick M. Sears

 

 

Abstract

      The research examined the relationship between self-destructive behaviors and self-esteemParticipants were 82 college students, 43.90% men (N=36) and 56.10% women (N=46), from a private Midwestern university.  Survey data involved Walter Hudsonís Index of Self Esteem and a measurement of self-destructive behaviors produced by the researcher.  Analysis of survey data did not support (p=.445, r=0.114) the hypothesis that individuals with higher self-esteem exhibited fewer self-defeating behaviors.  However, it was found the relationship between self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors may correlate with Piagetís notion of adolescent egocentrism.  Furthermore, additional analysis found driving behaviors to be the most frequent self-destructive behaviors.

 

 

Individuals tend to avoid suffering and situations that may jeopardize their physical or cognitive health, which seems to be an innate drive towards survival amongst organisms.  However, some individuals may choose to purposely engage in activities that may damage their physical and mental well-being. Such activities may be referred to as self-destructive behaviors.  Variations of self-destructive behaviors may also be referenced as deliberate self-harm, nonsuicidal self-injury, and other similar variations; within the context of the present study, all terminology referenced are of nonsuicidal intent. 

Nonsuicidal self-destructive behaviors are a serious behavioral malady, which can significantly influence varying facets of an individualís life, both interpersonal and intrapersonal.   It appears as though the majority of research on deliberate-self harm has been done with clinical populations, especially individuals with particular diagnosis, such as borderline personality disorder (Gratz, 2006).  Research pertaining to self-destructive behaviors amongst nonclinical populations has been limited.  However, self-destructive behaviors may be more prevalent than previously thought; for instance, Gratz (2001) reported 35% of psychology students at large public universities have participated in deliberate self-harm.  To date, there seems to be insufficient literature regarding potential risk factors and predispositions concerning self-harm amongst nonclinical populations.

Self-destructive behavior may include cutting, burning, drug abuse, and recklessness independent of suicidal intention (Lundh, Karim & Quilisch, 2007).  Statistics pertaining to self-destructive behavior suggests alarming occurrence.   Lundh et al. (2007) found that 65.9% of adolescents reported deliberate self-harm at least once while 41.5% indicated deliberate self-harm more than once; 13.8% noted multiple instances of self-harm behavior.  In addition, Hilt et al. (2008) found 56% of minority-group participants reported instances of nonsuicidial self-injurious behavior; 36% of occurrences being within the past year.

Theory Conceptualization

Thanatos, commonly referred to as the death instinct, is a psychoanalytic construct which postulates that individuals possess an innate, unconscious drive towards death.  Sigmund Freud, as cited by Cloninger (2004), conceptualized that death was functional and beneficial to the human organism since it alleviates anxiety and silences otherwise painful stimuli.  Consequently, Mills (2006) suggested biologically self-destructive ailments, such as AIDS and cancer, may result from the unconscious desire for self-harm, much in the same light as conversion disorders and that even sleep, a state characterized by peaceful tranquility, may be rooted in thanatoic origins; he suggested that excessive sleep, a clinical symptom of depression, is no coincidence but the longing for death.

Futhermore, Sigmund Freud hypothesized self-harming behaviors to result from intrapsychic conflict, specifically by means of superego activity (Cloninger, 2004).  In an effort to reinforce morality and strive towards ego-idealism, the superego may use guilt and shame tactics to influence thoughts or behaviors.  It could be fathomable that if an individualís superego overcomes the regulation of the ego, self-destructive behaviors could result.  A shamed or guilt-ridden individual may choose to harm him or herself as a symbolic act of atonement for their inadequacies.

In compliance with tenets of psychoanalytic theory, Orbach and Mikulincer (1998) established the Body Investment Scale (BIS) in an effort to evaluate self-destructive behaviors.  Sigmund Freud, as cited by Cloninger (2004), stated that early childhood experiences were rooted in bodily-self and through the outcomes of biological competence individuals learn specific cognitive faculties.  Therefore, within the constructs of psychoanalytic theory, it is plausible that individuals may have developed self-destructive tendencies by means of inadequate early childhood conflict resolution.  In addition, The Body Investment Scale appears to be supported by empirical evidence, for instance, Putnam and Stein (1985) observed physically self-destructive behaviors in infants and small children reared by physically neglectful mothers.  Orbach and Milkulincer found that BIS was significantly associated with Rosenbergís Self-Esteem Scale and that individuals with higher self-esteem possessed a more positive body image, feelings, and attitudes (1998).

Furthermore, it seems as though self-harming behaviors may be explainable through Erik Eriksonís psychosocial theory of development, which suggests early life experiences establish a foundation of cognition and create a particular predisposition for later crises resolution.  For instance, during the second year of life, children begin developing a sense of autonomy through walking, toilet-training, and self-feeding.  However, if the toddlerís autonomy needs are not supported by his or her caretakers, feelings of shame may develop (Cloninger, 2004).  Consequently, the proceeding stage of development concerns itself with initiative; however, if a child is too forceful, feelings of guilt may develop.  Therefore, if a childís cognitive schema incorporates feelings of shame and guilt, it may be fathomable for child to develop feelings of inferiority.  In compliance with psychosocial theory, it seems as though self-harming behaviors may result from an individualís insufficient ego strengths as a result of early childhood inadequacies.

 Threatened Egotism and Self-Regulation Failure

Not all self-destructive behaviors are necessarily directed towards the body, rather, individuals may participant in self-defeating behaviors as a means to protect ego identity.  Baumeister proposes two fundamental sources of self-destructive behavior: threatened egotism and self-regulation failure (1997).  Egotism may be defined in the context of self-perceived favorable characteristics whereas self-regulation refers to the extent in which an individual monitors and controls his or her own cognition, behaviors, and emotions.  When encountered with an ego-threatening stimulus, the ego is not always adaptive and resourceful in its response; that is, ego threats may result in an emotional response and a tendency to negate long-term consequences for short-term, immediate gratification.  In an effort to preserve egotism, an individual may participate in self-destructive behaviors, not only to achieve immediate gratification, but also to readily attribute the failed attempt using defensive mechanisms to lower anxiety and undesirable feelings.

Furthermore, two main types of self-regulation failure have been identified:  underregulation and misregulation.  Underregulation is generally characterized by a lack of effort to favorably adapt to a situation while misregulation often involves a faulty evaluation resulting in an undesirable outcome (Carver & Scheier, 1981).  For instance, an individual who vows to lose weight but does not change dietary habits may be underregulating while a depressed individual spending hundreds of dollars on unnecessary items at a shopping mall to sooth his or her sadness may be misregulating. In addition, Baumeister and Scher (1988) suggest that a large amount of self-destructive behaviors, roughly half, are trade-offs; that is, the cost of the behavior may be perceived necessary to obtain a desirable outcome.  For instance, an individual may abuse cocaine for its euphoric feelings despite the negative cognitive and somatic consequences affiliated with abuse.

Functionability of Self-Destructive Behaviors

Why individuals participate in nonsuicidial self-injury is still not completely understood; however, several theories have been postulated to investigate intent.  Nock & Prinstein (2004) suggested self-harm is practical and offers automatic and social functions.  Automatic function serves as emotional regulator; individuals utilizing deliberate self-harm in aspirations to cease negative feelings seems characteristic of automatic negative reinforcement.  Individuals experiencing shame, guilt, or anxiety may resort to self-harm as a result of poor coping strategies or possibly in an effort to express emotions that he or she may otherwise be unable or unwilling to convey (Connors, 1996).  As previously mentioned, self-harm portrayed in such manner appears to correlate to Freudís notion of catharsis and superego reinforcement (Cloninger, 2004).

The automatic function of nonsuicidal self-injury may also provide positive reinforcement; for instance, individuals may choose to deliberately injury themselves to break a period of emotional emptiness.  Although it appears perplexing for self-harm to be considered a positive reinforcement, self-injury may provide a release of repressed emotions, which may be cathartic and therapeutic.   However, automatic reinforcement, positive or negative, could result in a vicarious cycle of deliberate self-injury if more appropriate coping strategies are not assimilated or accommodated.  Furthermore, the social benefits of self-harm as defined by Nock & Prinstein are interpersonal (2004). Individuals may believe self-injurious behavior could result in the avoidance of punishment by others, which suggests possible issues of control.  However, individuals may also choose to use the interpersonal automatic function as means by which to seek attention, which could result in a suicide attempt despite nonsuicidal intentions.

Risk Factors for Self-Harm

Empirical research pertaining to self-destructive behaviors appears to focus on childhood experiences as potential risk factors.  For instance, Carroll et al. (1980) found physical abuse during childhood to be correlated with instances of self-harm in adulthood.  More specifically, research suggests a relationship between self-harming behaviors and childhood sexual abuse (Briere & Gill, 1998).  According to Nock and Kessler (2006), 19.8% of nonsuicidal self-harming individuals reported physical abuse as a child, 11.7% reported neglect as a child, while 53.6% reported an incident of sexual molestation.  In compliance with both Sigmund Freudís psychoanalytic theory and Eriksonís psychosocial theory of development (Cloninger, 2004), it appears as though traumatic early childhood experiences individuals may have developed issues of guilt or shame which may perpetuate self-destructive behaviors later in life.  In addition, an individualís feelings of guilt or shame that may lead him or her to inflict self-harm may result in more guilt and shame following the act, which may ironically perpetuate instances of more self-destructive behavior.

Individuals with borderline personality disorder appear especially prone toward self-harming behaviors.  According to the DSM-IV-TR (2000), diagnostic criteria for borderline personality includes unpredictability, patterns of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships, instability, uncontrollable or inappropriate anger, identity confusion, and chronic feelings of boredom or emptiness.  It seems plausible for the diagnostic criteria for borderline personality to coincide with self-destructive behaviors due to the individualís specific predispositions and generally poor coping strategies.  Individuals with borderline personality disorder may feel as though their life is out of control and, without formulating any plausible means by which to change their situation, may harm themselves as a means by which to express feelings of hopelessness (Toch, 1976).  However, borderline personality is not the only clinical diagnosis in which self-injurious behaviors may occur.  According to Nock and Kessler (2006), it seems as though individuals with depressive (Major Depressive Episode and Mania), impulsive (Drug Abuse and Dependency), and aggressive (Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder) behaviors may be at higher risks of self-destructive behaviors.

It seems as though self-destructive behaviors may run in family histories. Hawton et al. found 35.6% of patients had a family history of self-harming behaviors; 17.1% of patients reported their mothers engaged in self-injurious behaviors while 2.7% of fathers were noted to participate in deliberate self-harm (2002).  In addition, patients reporting family histories of self-destructive behaviors scored higher on measurements of anger, especially female patients; parental separation or divorce was reported in 29.0% of patients before the age of 16 (Hawton, et al., 2002).  Furthermore, Hawton et al. found a strong association between anger and self-harming individuals whom reported a family history of self-destructive behaviors; the anticipated association of impulsivity and family history was weakly supported (2002).

Previous research has associated self-destructive behaviors with low self-esteem (De Leo & Heller, 2004).  Lundh et al. found a significant correlation between self-harm and self-esteem; 41% of individuals reporting instances of self-harm also scored low on measurements of self-esteem (2007).   Consequently, depressive symptoms have also been correlated to nonsuicidial self-injury, further suggesting a relationship between self-destructive behaviors and self-esteem (Hilt, Cha & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2008).  Additional research suggests individuals may utilize self-harming behaviors to boost self-esteem through the possibility of a positive outcome (Leith & Baumeister, 1996).  For example, alcohol use may offer individuals desirable chemically induced feelings despite the knowledge of the detrimental effects of abuse.  More so, there appears to be empirical support for the notion that students with higher self-esteem are less likely to consume alcohol for the social and mood enhancing effects of the substance; such students seem less likely to associate alcohol with enjoyment (Luhtanen & Crocker, 2005).  Furthermore, Veldman and Bown (1969) have found that nonsmoking college freshman scored higher in regards to positive self-evaluative measurements of attitude while also signifying a pride for moral temperament. 

The Current Research

The present study examined the relationship between self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors in college students.  Although suicidal intent was not directly measured, questionnaire data composed of generally nonsuicidal self-destructive behaviors.  It seems as though most research in the area of self-destructive behaviors focuses on children, adolescents, and clinical populations; however, college students appear to be underrepresented in comparison to other populations. Furthermore, it appears as though there is a general lack of established risk factors that may predict self-harm amongst nonclinical individuals.  In the present study, the relationship between self-defeating behaviors and self-esteem was investigated to determine possible risk factors.  Examination of risk factors and predispositions, such as self-esteem, may yield valuable information that may be utilized in understanding and preventing self-destructive behaviors.  It was hypothesized that individuals with higher self-esteem should exhibit fewer self-defeating behaviors.

Methods

Participants

Participants were 82 college students, 43.90% men (N=36) and 56.10% women (N=46), from a private Midwestern university.  Demographics included age (M=19.162), gender, and year in college; variables such as ethnic background and academic discipline were not within the scope of the study. Using a convenience sample, participants were chosen from introductory statistics, psychology, and sociology courses.

Testing Materials

            A survey of destructive behaviors was developed by the researcher and Walter W. Hudson's Index of Self-Esteem (ISE) was used to assess self-esteem. The ISE measured the participantís self-esteem on a 0 to 100 scale; higher scores suggest greater self-esteem difficulties.  According to the Walmyr Publishing Company, the ISE possesses a reliability of 0.90 and greater, a validity of .60 and greater, and a clinical cutting score of 30, that is, scores below 30 suggest an absence of clinically significant difficulties (2007).  The ISE used in the present study has been slightly modified; the Likert scale was extended and question 19 was removed. Aside from demographics, questions were close-ended and operationalized on a seven-point Likert scale.

Design

            The independent variable of the experiment, self-esteem, was assessed via the ISE while the dependent variable, self-destructive behaviors, was assessed by means of a series of questions created by the researcher.  The ISE, a measurement of considerable reliability and validity, was used to increase the validity of the association between self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors, if such association is reported.  To avoid demand characteristics, the survey title was worded ambiguously while bias within the survey was carefully appraised.  Furthermore, questions on both the ISE and measurement of self-destructive behaviors were periodically reversed in wording to lessen the likelihood of response set answers.

 Procedure

Before being issued to participants, survey questions were field-tested and approved through the universityís institutional review board; adjustments were made to further clarify specific questions.  Participants were given informed consent before surveys were issued; anonymity and confidentiality were guaranteed.  Dissemination of research results were offered as well as contact information for the researcher, the supervising professor, and counseling services.  Once survey research was gathered, data was entered and processed in SPSS statistical software.  Before statistical analysis, questions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 18, 20, 21, 22, and 24 of the ISE and questions 7, 13, and 14 of the measurement of self-destructive behaviors were recoded to correspond to the flow of positive and negative question responses on the Likert scale.

Results

Table 1

 

Self-Destructive Behaviors and Self-Esteem

 

 

 

SDB

ISE

SDB

Pearson Correlation

1

.114

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

 

.445

 

Sum of Squares and Cross-products
 

4501.443

419.170

 

Covariance
 

75.024

9.112

 

N
 

61

47

ISE

Pearson Correlation

.114

1

 

Sig. (2-tailed)
 

.445

 

 

Sum of Squares and Cross-products
 

419.170

5831.677

 

Covariance
 

9.112

95.601

 

N
 

47

62

         

           The correlation analysis comparing total scores for self-destructive behaviors and ISE indicated self-destructive behaviors were not significantly correlated with ISE scores, p=0.445.

Table 2

Excessive Drinking and Gender

 

 

gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Excess

Drink

male

36

3.2500

1.90301

.31717

 

female
 

46

2.3043

1.54732

.22814

 

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

 

  

F
 

Sig.

 

    

 
 
Excess

Drink

Equal variances assumed

2.969

.089

 

 

Equal variances not assumed
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

t-test for Equality of Means

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

 

 

 

 

 

Lower

Upper

2.482

80

.015

.94565

.38097

.18749

1.70381

2.420

66.700

.018

.94565

.39070

.16576

1.72555

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                             

       The independent samples t-test analysis comparing total scores for males and females in overconsumption of alcohol indicated that male scores (M = 3.2500) did differ significantly from female scores (M = 2.3043), t (80) = 2.482, p = .015.

Table 3

Seatbelt Use and Gender

 

 

gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Use

Seatbelt

male

36

5.6111

1.94610

.32435

 

female
 

46

6.4130

1.20326

.17741

 

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

 

  

F
 

Sig.

 

    

 
 
Use

Seatbelt

Equal variances assumed

16.339

.000

 

 

Equal variances not assumed
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                               

t-test for Equality of Means

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

 

 

 

 

 

Lower

Upper

-2.292

80

.025

-.80193

.34982

-1.49809

-.10577

-2.169

55.230

.034

-.80193

.36970

-1.54276

-.06111

 

 

The independent samples t-test analysis comparing total scores for males and females on seatbelt use indicated that male scores (M = 5.6111) did differ significantly from female scores (M = 6.4130), t (55.230) = -2.169, p = .034.

 

 

 

 

Table 4

 

Negative Self-Statements and Gender

 

 

gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Negative

SelfState

male

36

2.6111

1.59065

.26511

 

female
 

46

3.3696

1.74303

.25700

 

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

 

  

F
 

Sig.

 

    

 
 
Negative

SelfState

Equal variances assumed

1.006

.319

 

 

Equal variances not assumed
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                               

 

 

 

t-test for Equality of Means

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

 

 

 

 

 

Lower

Upper

-2.031

80

.046

-.75845

.37341

-1.50156

-.01534

-2.054

78.068

.043

-.75845

.36923

-1.49352

-.02339

 

The independent samples t-test analysis comparing total scores for males and females on negative self-statements indicated that male scores (M = 2.6111) did differ significantly from female scores (M = 3.3696), t (80) = -2.031, p = .046.

 

 

 

 

Table 5

 

Brawling and Gender

 

 

gender

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Brawl

male

36

2.2778

1.59662

.26610

 

female
 

46

1.3043

.66230

.09765

 

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

 

  

F
 

Sig.

 

    

 
 
Brawl

Equal variances assumed

41.764

.000

 

 

Equal variances not assumed
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

t-test for Equality of Means

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

 

 

 

 

 

Lower

Upper

3.748

80

.000

.97343

.25970

.45662

1.49024

3.434

44.435

.001

.97343

.28346

.40232

1.54454

 

The independent samples t-test analysis comparing total scores for males and females on instances of brawling indicated that male scores (M = 2.2778) did differ significantly from female scores (M = 1.3043), t (44.435) = 3.434, p = .001.

 

 

 

 

Table 6

 

Frequency of individual self-destructive behaviors

 

 

Drink Too Much

Smoke

Abusive Relation

Do Not Wear Seatbelt

Illegal Drugs

Deliberate Burn

N

Valid

82

82

82

82

82

82

 

Missing

0

0

0

0

0

0

Mean

2.7195

1.7439

1.5488

1.9390

1.3537

1.1707

Median

2.0000

1.0000

1.0000

1.0000

1.0000

1.0000

Mode

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Std. Deviation

1.76575

1.69101

1.15633

1.61282

1.03485

.60461

Variance

3.118

2.860

1.337

2.601

1.071

.366

Range

6.00

6.00

5.00

6.00

5.00

3.00

Minimum

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Maximum

7.00

7.00

6.00

7.00

6.00

4.00

 

 

Speeding

Negative Self Statement

Arrested

Brawling

Do Not Use Contraceptive

Deliberate Cut

N

Valid

82

82

82

82

61

82

 

Missing

0

0

0

0

21

0

Mean

5.2195

3.0366

1.4268

1.7317

2.1967

1.1463

Median

5.5000

2.0000

1.0000

1.0000

1.0000

1.0000

Mode

7.00

2.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Std. Deviation

1.70710

1.71014

.99419

1.25756

1.76842

.65020

Variance

2.914

2.925

.988

1.581

3.127

.423

Range

6.00

6.00

5.00

5.00

6.00

4.00

Minimum

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

Maximum

7.00

7.00

6.00

6.00

7.00

5.00

 

 

 

 

Phone While Driving

Text Msg While Driving

N

Valid

82

82

 

Missing

0

0

Mean

5.1829

4.3049

Median

6.0000

4.5000

Mode

7.00

7.00

Std. Deviation

1.77171

2.20935

Variance

3.139

4.881

Range

6.00

6.00

Minimum

1.00

1.00

Maximum

7.00

7.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The analysis of frequency of individual self-destructive behaviors indicated that speeding (M=5.2195), phone use while driving (M=5.1829) and text-messaging while driving (M=4.3049) were amongst the most recurrent self-destructive behaviors.  Utilizing questions pertaining to speeding, phone use while driving, and text-messaging while driving, a new variable, self-destructive driving behaviors, was computed.

 

Table 7

 

Self-destructive driving behaviors and year in school

 

 

yearcollege

N

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

SD

Driving

Freshman and Sophomore

58

15.5000

4.28482

.56262

 

Juniors and Seniors
 

23

12.9565

5.17405

1.07886

 

 

  

 

 

Levene's Test for Equality of Variances

 

 

 

F

Sig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SDDriving

Equal variances assumed

1.932

.168

 

 

Equal variances not assumed

 

 

 

t-test for Equality of Means

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

 

 

 

 

 

Lower

Upper

2.269

79

.026

2.54348

1.12117

.31185

4.77511

2.090

34.605

.044

2.54348

1.21675

.07233

5.01463

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                             

The independent samples t-test analysis comparing total scores for freshman and sophomores and juniors and seniors on self-destructive driving indicated that freshman and sophomore scores (M = 15.5000) did differ significantly from junior and senior scores (M = 12.9565), t (79) = 2.269, p = .026.

Conclusions

As suggested by Jean Piaget, individuals develop distinct cognitive schemas as they assimilate and accommodate new patterns of cognition; such mental adaptations take place through a serious of developmental stages.  It appears as though adolescents may be formal operational, that is, they are able to think logically, abstractly, and theoretically.  However, as further supported by Eriksonís psychosocial theory of development and Adlerís notion of social interest, adolescents appear to be preoccupied with social needs.  Therefore, as their new-found introspection interactions with imaginary audience phenomenon, adolescents seem to develop a distinct egocentrism.  Within the present study, it appears plausible that the age of the participants (M=19.162) may have depicted adolescent egocentrism as suggested by the positive correlation between high self-esteem and self-destructive behaviors.

Additional statistical analysis reported statistically significant gender differences amongst self-destructive behaviors.  For instance, women indicated using seatbelts more frequently and may be more likely to state negative self-statements in times of difficulty or frustration while men indicated higher incidences of excessive drinking and brawling.  Although the applied significance of the relationships is dubious, it appears as though coping strategies may vary across genders.  For instance, it seems as though women, whom reported higher incidents of negative self-statements, may internalize their frustration, which could possibility result in an increase of shame and doubt.  Excessive drinking and brawling, behaviors reported most frequently by men, may suggest external coping strategies. 

Furthermore, it was noted by the researcher that the most frequent self-destructive behaviors appeared to be speeding, phone use while driving, and text-messaging while driving; a new variable, self-destructive driving, was computed.  Freshman and sophomore college students reported statistically significant higher incidents of self-destructive driving than juniors and seniors. The results may further suggest Piagetís notion of adolescent egocentrism and the illusion of invulnerability.

            The sample within the present study was very limited in age range; surveying introductory courses appeared to underrepresent the junior and senior population as well as all other non-college populations.  Although consistent high scores on the ISE may indicate a very mentally healthy sample, it may also suggest dishonesty or compliance to Piagetís notion of egocentrism.  Furthermore, although the scope of the present research was on nonsuicidal self-destructive behaviors, the survey measurement for self-harm did not include a suicidal ideation scale and lacked direct questioning pertaining to deliberate self-injury.  Future research is needed to further investigate the relationship between self-destructive behaviors, dangerous driving behaviors in adolescents, and coping strategies amongst genders.

 

  

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Connors, R. (1996). Self-injury in trauma survivors:  1. Function and meanings.  American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 66, 197-206.

 

De Leo, D., & Heller, S., (2004).  Who are the kids who self-harm?  An Australian self-report school survey.  Medical Journal of Australia., 181, 140-144.

 

Gratz, K. (2001). Measurements of deliberate self-harm: Preliminary data on the deliberate self-harm inventory. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 23, 253-263.

 

Gratz, K. (2006). Risk Factors for Deliberate Self-Harm Among Female College Students: The Role and Interaction of Childhood Maltreatment, Emotional Inexpressivity, and Affect Intensity/Reactivity. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 76, No. 2, 238-250.

 

Hilt, L., & Cha, C., Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2008). Nonsuicidal Self-Injury in Young Adolescent Girls:  Moderators of the Distress-Function Relationship. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, Vol 76, No. 1, 63(9).

 

Leith, K., & Baumeister, R.  (1996). Why Do Bad Moods Increase Self-Defeating Behavior? Emotion, Risk Taking, and Self-Regulation.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 71, No. 6, 1250-1267. 

 

Luhtanen, R., & Crocker, J.  (2005). Alcohol Use in College Students:  Effects of Level of Self-Esteem, Narcissism, and Contingencies of Self-Worth.  Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol. 19, No. 1, 99-103.

 

Lundh, L., Karim, J., & Quilisch, E.  (2007). Deliberate self-harm in 15-year-old adolescents:  A pilot study with a modified version of the Deliberate Self-Harm Inventory. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2002, 48, 33-41.

 

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Nock, M., & Prinstein, M. (2004).  A functional approach to the assessment of self-mutilative behavior.  Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72: 885-890.

 

Nock, M., & Kessler, R. (2006). Prevalence of Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts Versus Suicide Gestures: Analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 115, No. 3, 616-623.

 

Orbach, I.., & Mikulincer, M.  (1998). The Body Investment Scale:  Construction and Validation of a Body Experience Scale.  Psychological Assessment, Vol. 10, No. 4, 415-425

 

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Putnam, N., & Stein, M. (1985). Self-inflicted injuries in childhood. Psychological Pediatrics, 2, 514-518.

 

Touch, H. (1976). Peacekeeping: Police, prisoners, and violence. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

 

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cigarette smoking among college freshmen. Journal of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, 33(1):109Ė119.

 

 

 
 

Student Survey

 

Thank you for participating in the survey.  Participation is on a voluntary basis.  You have the freedom to withdraw at any time.  The information provided is anonymous and confidential.  If you should have any questions do not hesitate to contact me, Patrick Sears, at pmsears@mckendree.edu or Dr. Bosse at mbosse@mckendree.edu.  McKendree counseling services can be reached by contacting Dr. Clipper at 618-537-6502 or bclipper@mckendree.edu.

 

Age:

Year in College:   First-Year    Sophomore    Junior    Senior    Other _______

Gender:  M ____    F____

 

 

1)         I feel that people would not like me if they really knew me well.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

2)         I feel that others get along much better in life than I do.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

3)         I feel that I am a beautiful person.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

4)         When I am with other people I feel they are glad I am with them.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

5)         I feel that people really like to talk with me.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

6)         I feel that I am a very competent person.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

 

 

7)         I think I make a good impression on others.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

 

8)         I feel that I need more self-confidence.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

9)         When I am with strangers I am very nervous.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

10)       I think that I am a dull person.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

11)       I feel that I am a likeable person.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

12)       I feel ugly.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

13)       I feel that others have more fun than I do.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

14)       I feel that I bore people.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

15)       I think my friends find me interesting.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

16)       I think I have a good sense of humor.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

17)       I feel very self-conscious when I am with strangers.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

18)       I feel that if I could be more like other people I would have it made.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

19)       I feel that people have a good time when they are with me.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

20)       I feel I get pushed around more than others.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

21)       I think I am a rather nice person.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

22)       I feel that people really like me very much.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

23)       I am afraid I will appear foolish to others.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

 

 

 

 

24)       My friends think very highly of me.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Rarely/None                                                                                                            Most of the Time

 

 

25)       I drink too much.

           

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                          

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

26)       I smoke.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                           

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

27)       I have been in an abusive relationship.

           

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                          

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

28)       I use a seatbelt.

           

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                           

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

29)       I use illegal drugs.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                           

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

30)       I have deliberately burnt myself.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                           

                                                                                                                                      Frequently

31)       I exceed the speed limit when driving.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                          

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

 

 

 

 

32)       In times of difficulty, I say negative things about myself silently or publicly.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                          

                                                                                                                                        Frequently                                                                                                                      

33)       Iíve been arrested.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                          

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

34)       I have participated in a brawl.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                          

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

35)       If ever involved sexually, I use condoms or other contraceptives.

 

Not Applicable:   _____

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                     Very                           

                                                                                                                                          Frequently

36)       I have deliberately cut myself.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                           

                                                                                                                                        Frequently

37)       I talk on the phone while driving.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                       Frequently   

38)       I text message while driving.

 

1                      2                      3                      4                      5                      6                      7

Never                                                                                                                                 Very                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                       Frequently