Pathways from childhood trauma to non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) include those high-lighting emotional regulation and attachment, which have been supported by research inves-tigating the functions of NSSI. This pilot study sought to explore this further by examining which specific dimensions of attachment style and alexithymia predict self-injurious behav-iour. Twenty-six young adults [mean (± SD) age 21.08 (± 3.95)], with experience of NSSI were compared to a matched control group. The Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Attachment Style Interview (ASI) were used. Findings revealed significantly greater levels of alexithymia, particularly the "difficulty identifying feelings" factor, in those with NSSI compared to the control group, as well as higher rates of insecure attachment style, particularly fearful insecure style. Examination of specific dimensions revealed ASI scales of "constraints on closeness" and "fear of rejection" and provided the best model of NSSI. These findings provide empirical support for the affect regulatory function of self-injury, but also highlight the importance of the interpersonal boundaries function, which may pro-vide a useful focus for treatment or intervention.
Keywords: Alexithymia; affect regulation, attachment, emotion, NSSI, self-injury.