(Dis)connected: An examination of interoception in individuals with suicidality

Lauren N. Forrest, April R. Smith, Robert D. White, Thomas E. Joiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

Sensing one's internal physiological sensations is a process known as interoception. Several lines of research suggest that poor interoception may facilitate engagement in dangerous self-harm. In 2 studies, we investigated interoceptive abilities in individuals with differing degrees of suicidality. In Study 1, we compared interoception in controls (n = 27) and suicide ideators (n = 35), planners (n = 14), and attempters (n = 30). We found that those with suicidality had worse interoception than controls. Further, attempters reported worse interoception than planners or ideators. In Study 2, we compared interoception in psychiatric outpatients who had (n = 136) or had not (n = 459) attempted suicide. Again, we found that attempters reported worse interoception than nonattempters. In addition, we found that recent attempts were more strongly associated with interoceptive deficits than distant attempts. Together, our findings suggest that interoception is impaired in individuals with suicidality. Furthermore, the extent to which interoception is disturbed may differentiate not only between those who desire suicide from those who attempt suicide, but also between recent and distant suicide attempters. Impaired interoception may be important for engaging in serious self-injury; thus, reestablishing one's connection to the body may aid in the prevention of suicidal behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-763
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Volume124
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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