Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Suicide and the Unconscious

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Suicide and the Unconscious

Article excerpt

ANTOON LEENARS AND DAVID LESTER, EDS.: Suicide and the Unconscious, Jason Aronson Inc., 1996, 296 pp., $60.00, ISBN 1-56821-724-2.

In these days with suicide almost exclusively linked to depression and hence in the eyes of insurance companies to be treated with medication, this collection of essays is a valuable reminder that much more than seratonin is involved in suicidal acts. As the authors point out, giving medication to some depressed individuals enables them to carry out their suicidal intentions, and further, the majority of completed suicides have avoided contact with mental health providers. And so it is that the issue of suicide is far more complex than would at first appear to be the case.

The editors have collected together works and experiences of sixteen experts in the field of suicidality and have achieved what is difficult in such texts, a broad but by no means superficial review of the subject matter, without repetition. The book is divided into six sections, providing a historical introduction to the concept of the unconscious, a review of the theoretical perspectives on unconscious motivations for suicide as understood by Freud, Jung, Object Relations theory and other schools of psychology. The chapter on Jung is particularly clear. The perspectives of those not covered in this section are discussed in other parts of the text. There is an interesting discussion on the meaning of suicide notes followed by three excellent case consultations showing how these theoretical viewpoints can be applied. The section "Gender and Cultural Considerations" is excellent and includes a discussion as to the dynamics of suicide in women where the incidence is almost double of that in men. …

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