Pain experience related to self-injury in eating disorder patients.Eat Behav 2006; 7(3):204-13EB
A reduced pain sensitivity has been found in eating disorder (ED) patients. These patients often show various types of self-injurious behaviors (SIB) which some experience as painful, while others report analgesia during episodes of SIB. How can we explain these differences? We studied female ED patients (N=185) of whom 84 had admitted some form of SIB in their recent history. The presence/absence of pain report during SIB was not significantly related to the type of ED. The longer the history of SIB, the less pain was reported. Ratings of dissociation and traumatic experiences were higher in patients who did not experience pain while injuring themselves. We discuss several biopsychosocial explanations for these findings with suggestions for future research.