Date of Conferral







Rachel Piferi


There is a surprising dearth of research related to the phenomenon of self-injurious behavior/nonsuicidal self-injury (SIB/NSSI), such as cutting. Research conducted on SIB has revealed that this maladaptive behavior is more common among adolescents than other populations. The act of posting SIB on social media deserves research attention, as it seems to contradict what had previously been considered a very private behavior. The goal of this qualitative case study was to better understand why adolescents engage in SIB as well as investigate why they post these behaviors on social media. Merton's theory of social strain and anomie, which focuses on impulse control and management being dependent on having social order; Erikson's developmental stages, specifically Identity Versus Role Confusion; and Siegel's research with the adolescent brain were used for the study's theoretical framework. A qualitative observational case study of 30 YouTube videos was conducted to examine what individuals posted about their SIB, why individuals engaged in SIB, and why individuals posted their SIB on social media. Explanations for posting SIB on YouTube ranged from describing the actual objects used for self-harm to expressing shame for engaging in the behavior. The responses for engaging in SIB revealed that the need for self-expression was significant and that the behavior was a means for coping with mental illness or trauma, familial conflict, or some shame related to a failure to conform to social norms. The implications for positive social change include an increased awareness of this behavior for parents, teachers, medical personnel, and mental health providers to better inform treatment and interventions.