Research - Genetic research - self-mutilation gene
NZ researchers identify self-mutilation gene
According to a study by the Christchurch
School of Medicine, carried by Sunday Star-Times Sunday, the
researchers have discovered those who have the gene are four
times more likely to mutilate or cut themselves than those
who do not have it.
Researcher professor Peter Joyce was quoted as saying that
the gene appeared to intensify the "numb" state
that self-mutilators try to escape from by inflicting pain
and cutting themselves.
About 40 percent of the population has the gene, which researchers
have now identified as one of three main predictors ofself-mutilation,
along with borderline personality disorder and a history of
childhood sexual abuse.
Joyce said the study, yet to be published, found that of the
young people who did not carry the gene and who had not been
sexually abused, only 5 percent self-mutilated.
By comparison, those who had the gene and had not been abused,
or who had been abused and did not have the gene, had a 50
percentchance of self-mutilating.
An earlier Christchurch School of Medicine study into depression
revealed more young people had cut themselves than had attempted
Jocye estimated about 5 percent of all New Zealanders self-mutilate
at some time, usually in their teens.
The newspaper reported that in New Zealand, actual figures
are difficult to find as self-mutilation is not well studied
and is commonly confused with suicide attempts, but experts
warn the number of teenagers cutting themselves is on the
Auckland District Health Board clinical leader of mental healthNick
Argyle said the prevalence of cutting had gone up and was
nowone of the most common presentations at the Kari Center,
the board' s community mental health service for children
"Young women cutting themselves is quite common,"
Joyce said more acceptable forms of self-mutilation, such
as body piercing, might hide the extent of the problem. Patients
sometimes resorted to body piercing or tattooing, rather than
cutting themselves, when they needed pain to break their intenselynumb
state, he said.