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Original Research

Skin Picking Phenomenology and Severity Comparison

Fugen Neziroglu Dena Rabinowitz Anna Breytman Matthew Jacofsky

Published: August 15, 2008

Article Abstract

Objective: Despite the substantial distress and impairment often associated with skin picking, there currently is only limited research examining various phenomenological aspects of this behavior. The present research contributes to the existing literature by investigating phenomenological variables related to skin picking, such as family involvement, anxiety, depression, and the emotional consequences of skin picking. Moreover, on the basis of symptom severity level, differences were explored between individuals with skin picking who were from a psychiatric population.

Method: Forty individuals with various clinician-ascertained DSM-IV diagnoses in addition to skin picking symptomatology participated in the present study, which was conducted from September 2002 through January 2003. Participants were administered a self-report questionnaire (which assessed demographic, symptom, and past diagnostic information) as well as the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and the Self-Injury Interview.

Results: Phenomenological data on various aspects of individuals with skin picking are presented. Individuals with mild skin picking and individuals with severe skin picking were compared and found to differ in the level of distress they experienced (t = -2.35, p = .05) and the amount of damage caused by their picking behavior (t = -3.06, p = .01).

Conclusions: Overall, skin picking represents a behavior with its own unique characteristics and accompanying levels of distress and impairment that warrants specific attention by clinicians.

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