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Self-Mutilative Behavior in Verbal and Nonverbal Schizophrenic Children

Margaret J. Shodell, PhD; Henry H. Reiter, PhD
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1968;19(4):453-455. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1968.01740100069010.
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THE PRESENT study is concerned with the incidence of certain types of self-mutilative behavior, ie, headbanging, self-biting and scratching, and hairpulling directed against the self. The impetus for this study was research reported by Green1 who found self-mutilative behavior occurring in 40% of a population of verbal schizophrenic children. The present study attempts to contrast verbal and nonverbal schizophrenic children with regard to frequency and incidence of self-mutilation, as independently rated by teachers and parents.

The crucial variable in question is nonverbal ability as it relates to self-mutilative behavior. Hypothetically, it is expected that schizophrenic children who are able to verbalize will show less self-mutilative behavior than those children who are nonverbal. The implications are that nonverbal children are unable to use either inner or expressive languahe as controls for overt behavior. This lack of language further impairs their ability to understand the


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