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Culture and Cognition

A collection of critical essays

Shamsul Haque and Elizabeth Sheppard

The past few decades have seen a huge increase in global interest in psychology, with more psychologists, psychology programmes and students than ever before. Culture and Cognition: A collection of critical essays is made up of chapters written by experts in each topic, and is aimed at those wishing to learn more about psychology. While culture and cognition have frequently been regarded as separate areas of study in psychology, this book brings together essays on both of these topics as well as several that consider the direct interplay between culture and thinking.
Essays focus on a range of fascinating topics, such as how culture affects memory for events in our own lives or our perceptions of human attractiveness. Essays also address a diverse range of psychological phenomena like déjà-vu, savant abilities, non-suicidal self-injury, theory of mind, problem gambling and sleep disorders. Socio-cultural and professional issues specifically within the Asian context are also discussed.
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Emotion regulation, the anterior cingulate cortex and non-suicidal self-injury


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), the deliberate destruction or alteration of body tissue, performed without conscious suicidal intent and for purposes not socially sanctioned (ISSS, 2007), is a topic of enquiry that has received increasing research attention over the last decade. Although delineated from suicidal behaviour, NSSI is a significant risk factor for more severe self-injury and later suicidal behaviour, and is associated with considerable psychological distress, even among those performing relatively mild NSSI (Hasking, Momeni, Swannell & Chia, 2008). As a result, considerable work has been done in an attempt to explain why people self-injure in order to better inform prevention, early intervention and treatment efforts. Theoretical and empirical research consistently concludes that the primary function of NSSI is to regulate emotion (Klonsky, 2007; 2009). In this essay we offer a preliminary introduction to the neurobiological evidence suggesting an emotion regulatory role for NSSI.

The nature and extent of NSSI

Historically, definitional confusion has hindered attempts to accurately estimate the extent of NSSI. Terms such as ‘deliberate self-harm’ may include NSSI but might also include behaviours related to suicide, such as suicide attempts. Similarly, some researchers include indirect acts of self-harm, whereby tissue damage is not the intended outcome of the behaviour (e.g. substance use, risky behaviours). By limiting our definition to exclude suicidal acts and acts of indirect harm we can ← 163 | 164 → gain a more accurate understanding of how widespread the behaviour is and a more detailed appreciation of the function it serves....

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