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Schmukler, A.G. (1996). Suicide As Psychache: A Clinical Approach To Self-Destructive Behavior. By Edwin Shneidman, Ph.D. Northvale, NJ/ London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1993. 258 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 65:656-658.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:656-658

Suicide As Psychache: A Clinical Approach To Self-Destructive Behavior. By Edwin Shneidman, Ph.D. Northvale, NJ/ London: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1993. 258 pp.

Review by:
Anita G. Schmukler

Balzac explored the subject of suicidal behavior, both chronic and acute, in La Peau de chagrin, a novel in which a young man contemplating his own death is described as suffering from “a complaint more fatal than any disease.” As the man approached the Pont Royal, “He smiled to himself as he remembered that Lord Castlereagh had satisfied the humblest of our needs before he cut his throat. …” The young man examined his own responses, including the fact that that while he contemplated leaping to his death, “he stood aside … to allow a porter to pass, [observed that] his coat had been whitened somewhat by the contact, and … carefully brushed the dust from his sleeve, to his own surprise.” “Wretched weather for drowning yourself,” said a ragged old woman, who grinned at him; “Isn't the Seine cold and dirty?” While the young man exposed his conflict by brushing the offending dust from his coat at the moment that he contemplated self- destruction, the configuration of his behavior at Pont Royal might well be described as a suicidal “gesture.”

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