Excoriation (Skin-Picking) Disorder (SPD) is characterized by repetitive skin picking resulting in tissue damage. This study examined associations between the tendency to experience a sense of incompleteness (henceforth trait incompleteness) and pathological skin picking across two studies.
In study 1, undergraduate students (n = 481) completed self-report measures of skin picking severity, trait incompleteness, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and negative affect (i.e., depression, anxiety). In study 2, undergraduate students with a diagnosis of SPD (n = 61) and a control group without SPD (n = 63) rated skin picking severity, trait incompleteness, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and negative affect (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress).
In study 1, linear regression showed that trait incompleteness significantly predicted skin picking severity, after controlling for other variables. In study 2, logistic regression showed trait incompleteness significantly predicted SPD diagnosis, after controlling for other variables. There was no significant correlation between incompleteness and symptom severity within the SPD group.
The results indicate a robust association between SPD and trait incompleteness. More research is needed to establish whether trait incompleteness may represent a vulnerability factor underlying SPD, or if skin picking leads to susceptibility to trait incompleteness.