This study examined the indirect effects of distinct aspects of invalidating caregiving environments (i.e., paternal maltreatment, maternal maltreatment, and perceived alienation) on non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) via six specific emotion regulation difficulties. We hypothesized that specific emotion regulation deficits would mediate associations between invalidating environments and NSSI. Participants included 114 young adults (57 self-injurers; 57 age- and sex-matched comparison participants) aged 17–25 years. Three parallel mediation models tested hypotheses. Results showed that maternal maltreatment, paternal maltreatment, and perceived alienation indirectly predicted NSSI through poor emotional clarity. Maternal maltreatment uniquely predicted NSSI through limited access to regulation strategies. Lastly, maternal maltreatment and perceived alienation were both linked to greater difficulties engaging in goal-directed behavior during emotional upsets; however, contrary to hypotheses, this particular deficit was associated with decreased odds of engaging in NSSI. Findings illustrate how different aspects of invalidating environments and specific emotion regulation deficits may be implicated in NSSI engagement.
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This research was supported by Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarships (Doctoral) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council awarded to C. Guérin-Marion, and by a Louise and Alan Edwards Postdoctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Pain awarded to J. Martin.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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