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Herman, N. (1991). Prodromal states of suicide: Thoughts on the death of ann france. Free Associations, 2(2):249-258.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(2):249-258

Clinical Paper

Prodromal states of suicide: Thoughts on the death of ann france

Nini Herman

My maternal grandmother shot herself when my mother was three. Since the circumstances bear on my reflections at this time they are given in outline. Deeply unhappy in her marriage and disgraced in her own eyes by a furtive love affair which events terminated, she requested of her husband that he buy her a revolver and teach her to shoot water rats. In this plea he acquiesced. Was the adjoining canal not known to breed these animals? Quite alone she would sit, this young heiress and mother, on a little garden seat and practise with diligence until one night she shot herself. The occasion was a ball which the emperor would attend.

If I was into middle age by the time this saga reached me in my mother's own words, given as I know her to be to apocalyptic secrecy, I knew that I had always ‘known’. Assassinations and suicide hung like a shroud about my childhood. A famous uncle, twice removed, was assassinated by the Nazis in their storm-ascent to power. My mother's youngest brother shot himself in his teens, and once her children left home my mother made a series of serious suicide attempts.

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