The Psychology of Self-Injury: Exploring Self-Harm & Mental Health

The Psychology of Self-Injury Pain, with Dr. Julian Koenig

Episode Summary

Julian Koenig, Dr. sc. hum. (PhD), from the University of Cologne in Germany discusses the psychology of pain in self-injury and self-harm.

Episode Notes

What is the relationship between nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI) and pain? Are individuals who self-injure less sensitive to pain than those who don’t self-injure? What are the ethics involved in conducting research on pain? In this episode, Dr. Julian Koenig describes the research on the experience of pain among those who self-harm. Learn more about Dr. Koenig and his research lab at, and follow him on Twitter/X at @koeniglab.

Below are links to some of the research referenced in this episode:

  1. Koenig, J., Thayer, J. F., & Kaess, M. (2016). A meta-analysis on pain sensitivity in self-injury. Psychological Medicine, 46(8), 1597-1612.
  2. Koenig, J., Klier, J., Parzer, P., Santangelo, P., Resch, F., Ebner-Priemer, U., & Kaess, M. (2021). High-frequency ecological momentary assessment of emotional and interpersonal states preceding and following self-injury in female adolescents. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(8), 1299-1308.
  3. Kaess, M., Hooley, J. M., Klimes-Dougan, B., Koenig, J., Plener, P. L., Reichl, C., Robinson, K., Schmahl, C., Sicorello, M., Schreiner, M. W., & Cullen, K. R. (2021). Advancing a temporal framework for understanding the biology of nonsuicidal self-injury: An expert review. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 130, 228-239.
  4. Störkel, L. M., Karabatsiakis, A., Hepp, J., Kolassa, I.-T., Schmahl, C., & Niedtfeld, I. (2021). Salivary beta-endorphin in nonsuicidal self-injury: an ambulatory assessment study. Neuropsychopharmacology, 46(7), 1357-1363.
  5. Sigrist, C., Kaess, M., & Koenig, J. (2023). Autonomic nervous system function in nonsuicidal self-injury—A Research Domain Criteria perspective on the arousal/regulatory systems. In E. E. Lloyd-Richardson, I. Baetens, & J. Whitlock (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of nonsuicidal self-injury (pp. C18S1–C18S23). Oxford University Press.
  6. Naoum, J., Reitz, S., Krause-Utz, A., Kleindienst, N., Willis, F., Kuniss, S., Baumgärtner, U., Mancke, F., Treede, R.-D., & Schmahl, C. (2016). The role of seeing blood in non-suicidal self-injury in female patients with borderline personality disorder. Psychiatry Research, 246, 676-682.

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The Psychology of Self-Injury podcast has been rated #1 by Feedspot  in their list of "10 Best Self Harm Podcasts" and #5 in their "20 Best Clinical Psychology Podcasts." It has also been featured in Audible's "Best Mental Health Podcasts to Defy Stigma and Begin to Heal."

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