I would like to make a reference request for articles, papers or monographs that address the question of what is the experience of physical pain during self-harm, if possible, particularly in those with borderline personality disorder.

Self-harm is pervasive in BPD as it is believed to be used to help regulate emotions and manage dissociative episodes. However, my interest is not in its function nor its motivations. I would like to know if any research addresses the experience of the physical pain of the act, for the BPD individual. In particular, if the following questions can be addressed:

  • Is the person self-harming conscious and aware of the physical pain during the act?
  • If the physical pain is experienced like any other, is its relative magnitude to the emotions being regulated minute so as to make it perceived as tolerable or make it possible to be ignored?
  • Do those that engage in self-harm build a pain tolerance, or what is the relation to their pain tolerance?

The main answer might be simple, that they experience pain in the same way as someone being accidentally injured, but the context and situation make it tolerable or possible to be ignored.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You said you are not interested in it's function or motivations, but to fully understand the issue you need to bear them in mind. Have you considered the fact that some who self-harm may be using the pain to "ground" themselves? $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '21 at 7:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers I think that is subsumed in my statement about them using it to manage dissociative episodes? $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '21 at 15:03

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