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ERIC Number: EJ983836
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Aug
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0140-1971
Magical Thinking in Narratives of Adolescent Cutters
Gregory, Robert J.; Mustata, Georgian T.
Journal of Adolescence, v35 n4 p1045-1051 Aug 2012
Adolescents sometimes cut themselves to relieve distress; however, the mechanism is unknown. Previous studies have linked self-injury to deficits in processing emotions symbolically through language. To investigate expressive language of adolescent cutters, the authors analyzed 100 narratives posted on the Internet. Most narratives (n = 66) displayed idiosyncratic use of language indicating poor differentiation between the real and the symbolic, such as blood substituting for negative emotions, which can then be released from the self; or emotional pain magically transforming into physical pain, which can then be managed. This kind of magical thinking correlated with cutting to relieve distress, to see blood, and to feel pain, but negatively correlated with complex representation of people, understanding social causality, and self-esteem. The results suggest that magical thinking represents a pre-symbolic mental state that processes and organizes distressing emotions through body schema. Magical thinking thus provides a plausible mechanism for why cutting works. (Contains 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A