Self-Injury and Stereotypies

  • Johnny L. Matson


Self-injury and stereotypies are behavioral problems that have caused considerable concern and have received a good deal of attention in the child psychopathology literature. Similar etiologies have been proposed for both problems, and many of the overt manifestations of the conditions are similar. In this chapter, a review of these two conditions is undertaken, with a discussion of their similarities and differences, their prevalence, and their etiology, as well as some discussion regarding the evaluation of the conditions. Self-injury and stereotypies are found most frequently in particular subpopulations of handicapped children: visually impaired, autistic, and mentally retarded persons. For the visually impaired, the stereotyped responses in particular are evident. Also, there is an overlap of the autistic and mentally retarded groups. It is estimated that 70% of autistic persons also evince mental retardation. The mentally retarded group is subdivided into four groups: mild, moderate, severe, and profound. And the rate of these disorders increases as the severity of the mental retardation increases. Several proposals about this relationship have been made from an etiological standpoint. At present, these relationships are correlational only. Considerable future research will be needed to pinpoint precisely what causes and maintains self-injury in a given child. However, we do know that these problems are often idiosyncratic, so that explanations are difficult. Self-injury is the first area to be discussed.


Mental Retardation Stereotyped Behavior Target Behavior Aberrant Behavior Mental Deficiency 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johnny L. Matson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA

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