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Friedlander, K. (1940). On the 'Longing to Die'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 21:416-426.

(1940). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 21:416-426

On the 'Longing to Die'

Kate Friedlander

Considering that attempts at suicide are not uncommon during analysis and that they represent a very serious complication, it is rather astonishing that the literature on the subject is not more extensive. I am therefore venturing in the present paper to describe the suicidal mechanism of a single case. I do this only because I am of the opinion that this particular mechanism is not uncommon and often actually results in suicide.

In psycho-analytical literature we find at least two ways of approach to the problem of suicide.

The one, which I shall do on more than mention as it has no actual bearing on the problem which I want to discuss here, is the psycho-analytical interpretation of statistics (19), taking into account different cultures and different circumstances. We know that in certain cultures suicide is considered to be a respectable act and that therefore suicide is not necessarily a sign of illness and we also know that in certain circumstances the number of suicides may suddenly increase and include otherwise healthy people. These considerations have not necessarily any bearing on the mechanism of the suicidal act. The fact that in certain circumstances normal people may commit suicide does not exclude the possibility that under these special conditions mechanisms come into play which in normal circumstances are only to be found in neurotic people.

In order to find out what particular mechanism is involved one has to study the mechanism in any given case, and this is the second way of approach to the problem.

The question which I want to examine is whether the melancholic type of suicide is the basis for every suicide committed or whether there are cases or perhaps a whole group of cases in which other mechanisms are the basis for suicide or attempts at suicide.

Before the publication of 'Mourning and Melancholia' (7) it was assumed that various libidinal impulses may lead to suicide.

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