Thursday, February 10, 2005

Suicide and Its Nuances

Wretchard has an interesting post discussing a recent essay by Nelson Ascher about the Left's desire for revenge since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The master at the Belmont Club concludes: "The Left may have embarked upon a journey of revenge. They will find suicide."

As a psychiatrist, I am aware that often, suicidal impules exist side by side with homicidal impulses. Like two sides of a coin, suicide and homicide are psychologically intertwined in that they both frequently originate from intense emotions of anger and rage; with one impulse directed outward and the other inward. This being so, suicidality can have a wide variety of expressions and patterns. Here is a list of a just a few of the patterns, where the anger/rage goes from MOST INTERNALIZED to MOST EXTERNALIZED:

1. The Hopeless, Passive Suicide
This suicidal person is totally withdrawn and passive in their suicidality. They may refuse to eat, preferring to waste away. Their hopelessness is pervasive and they are indifferent to the outside world because their anger is completely internalized.

2. The Lone Suicide
This is the person who is serious about suicide and plans it so that they will definitely be dead at the completion of their suicide act. They do not generally involve others and do not leave a suicide note. What would be the point?

3. The Ambivalent Suicide
Not so sure they really want to die, they leave lots of clues that they are thinking about killing themselves (e.g., calling friends, relatives, acquaintances, or hotlines); and choose methods that are likely to fail. They often do not succeed and are "rescued" at the last minute. If they do succeed it is because of some accident of fate. They leave suicide notes telling specific people it "wasn't their fault", often phrased so that it is clear that the suicide believes it was.

4. The Thoughtless Suicide
Well, most are thoughtless, but this kind is so wrapped up in themselves and their pain that they choose a type of suicide, not particularly realizing that they will likely kill other people when they kill themselves. Its not so much that they WANT to kill other people, its just that they are thoughless and preoccupied with their own pain and really don't care much about other's. The guy who left his SUV on the RR tracks in California, then jumped out at the last minute, causing death and destruction to everyone but himself is a good example.

5. The Angry Suicide (angry at a specific person)
This one is overtly angry--usually at a specific person (e.g., a woman who broke up with him) and intends to commit suicide, but ALSO wants to make sure the person he/she is angry with dies at the same time.

6. The Angry Suicide (angry at the world)
This is a clever variant of #5. Instead of killing themselves directly, they provoke authority (e.g., police) with the intent of making others do the dirty workfor them. They tend to see the problem something in other people, and not in themselves; so don't take any responsibility for their own feelings.

6. The Suicide Bomber
This one coldly and calculatingly straps explosives to him or herself, with the intent of killing as many innocent people as possible as they blow themselves up. They don't see anyone as "innocent" really--all are guilty of the sin of not believing what the bomber believes, and therefore all deserve of death. These individuals are the most outwardly focused, having completely purged any human feeling from their heart except rage. They also don't take any responsibility for their feelings, but expect to get rewarded for that fact.

I don't pretent that the list is exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of how the expression of suicidal behavior depends on the emotional state and self awareness of the suicidal person. At the one end of the spectrum, the person is totally consumed with anger toward himself; at the other, totally consumed with anger toward others.

Getting back to Wretchard's point: the Left may indeed be suicidal (and we have recently observed ample evidence of that side of their group personality), but I believe that many of their number are perfectly willing to strap on the explosives and take the U.S. and/or the Western Civilization along with them in their catastrophic death fantasy.

We are their target because they believe us guilty-guilty-guilty of the horrible sin of demonstrating to them the worthlessness of their ideology in the real world.

I wonder what the Left's version of the "72 virgins in heaven" reward is?

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