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Suicidal Mind (Revised)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  491 ratings  ·  38 reviews
Suicide haunts our literature and our culture, claiming the lives of ordinary people and celebrities alike. It is now the third leading cause of death for fifteen- to twenty-four-year-olds in the United States, raising alarms across the nation about the rising tide of hopelessness seen in our young people. It is a taboo subtext to our successes and our happiness, a dark is ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1996)
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Cooper Cooper
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
The late clinical psychologist Edwin S. Shneidman studied suicide for five decades. A disciple of the famous Henry A. Murray, Shneidman applied his mentor’s “need-press” theory to suicide, maintaining that suicide is virtually always triggered by unbearable psychological pain (“psychache,” he called it), which in turn is triggered by failure to satisfy key psychological needs. What needs? They vary with the individual, but based on Murray’s work Shneidman developed a “Need Form” (see below), wh ...more
Mehwish Mughal
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Edwin Shneidman, a suicidologist and a thanatologist has written this book with humane sophistication. It is one of those few books by a specialist who managed to rescue it from the glorious yet ignorant field of medical psychiatry and placed it where it belongs – “ This book is a forthright effort to revitalize the topic of suicide by looking in a fresh way at suicidal phenomena as they play themselves out in the mind of suicidal people.”

His absolutely brilliant and heart-touching question t
Michael Connolly
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Modes of Death

The author states that there are 4 modes of death:

• Natural
• Accident
• Suicide
• Homicide

Psychic Pain

The author states that people become suicidal when they are in unbearable psychic pain. Suicidal people often believe that their psychic pain is greater than that of the average person. Suicide is seen as an escape. The suicidal person disconnects from memories of loved ones.

Unfulfilled Needs

Some of the more common unfulfilled needs causing psychic pain:

• Achievement
• Autonomy
• Dom
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, suicide
one of the first books to try and understand the suicidal mind outside of the typical freudian reasoning. schneidman believes there is something he refers to as "psychache" and until that is relieved, the spectre of suicide will remain. it's short, accessible, and i think, fascinating. it's definitely a landmark text in psychology, and it sparked my interest in suicidology massively.

i appreciate that he doesn't pity the people who killed themselves, and doesn't condescend to them, but merely wi
This one has a lot of useful information. I think it's the best of the Shneidman books.
The Angry Lawn Gnome
I can't believe Shneidman considers his psychache concept remotely close to proven, because it simply is not, at least in this book. But we go from a section of dogmatic assertions stating exactly this and hop right into...three case studies, each one obviously carefully chosen to illustrate this or that point. (Talk about selection bias! - And this after ALREADY excluding anything outside a "Judeo-Christian" culture [p.5])

Actually, the best is indeed saved for the end here, with the last two ch
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is about 20 years old, so the work is a little outdated. However, I found the individual case studies very interesting. I think the aim of this book is to gain a better understanding of what it's like to be suicidal, what the thoughts are, what the feelings are so that you can put yourself in another person's shoes. The author offers suggestions for "hints" we can pick up on for suicidality, which I think is helpful, but may not be true for every single person. I think it would have be ...more
Tori Miller

Reread 7/20/13

5 stars

Learned a lot all over again.

Finished 9/1/07

Four stars

19 - Excellent discussion of what leads to suicidal impulses and what can be done to prevent suicide. Very eye opening. Considering that it was written by such an expert in the field - I think the book is fairly easy for the average person to understand.
Kate  Rosenberg
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
I had forgotten until recently that I read this book and was entranced. It's short, but frank. Truly scary, heartbreaking, intriguing, scholarly... It's a fabulous read for those who don't mind this somewhat taboo subject.
Jan 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
WARNING: DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE SUICIDAL! this book is meant for academia, not for self help.

Shneidman's offering on the topic of suicide has some useful offerings, but the methodology puzzled me. Coroner's files were used to gather data and make conclusions. Suicide notes, for example, were examined. Do the dead have a right to privacy and peace? This reminds me of the debate about tissue rights - - when our biopsied tissues, for example, can be used for research and profits without our knowledge. So, because of his described data collection methods, even if legal, are not ethical in m ...more
I tried with this, making it a few pages at a time. And I just couldn't finish it. Clearly the author has never been suicidal and it shows. The case studies are all pretty much the same in terms of reason and the only differences is execution. There's no real analysis. As someone who has been suicidal, I feel like most of this didn't describe any of my thought processes. Can't slog through this anymore.
Hannah Jemar
Jul 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Disappointing. His research shows that one of reasons for suicide is a child minded person who had a failed relationship with their father and felt unhappiness towards never bonding with him. That point, alone, made me shake my head at this book. I doubt that not having a father growing up is that significant of an event to cause life long unhappiness regardless of other positive role models. However, his 10 characteristics of suicide is more believable.
Sophie Lynne
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a suicide survivor, and having lost my dearest friend to suicide, I wanted to know more.

This book is a broad look at a very complex topic. The concept of "Psychache" is spot on.

Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Every therapist should probably read this.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great read of the why’s people commit suicide and in many ways it’s due to psychache, the human emotion and the fractured psychological needs. However, it really needs to cover about the why people are suicidal due to their situation, socio economics, their race and generational trauma. I found this book helpful somewhat but also quite limiting.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very insightful book with solid theory and a few case studies. This was an easy, well-written book and opens a lot of doors for further reading and exploration.
Caidyn (NO LONGER ACTIVE; he/him/his)
This book had such potential for me to really like it; about a topic that's interesting to me, something that I can get into after having a few points in my life where I considered it. But it fell short, mainly with the cases he picked out.

I'm sure other people will argue with me, but the cases were typically the same. From Ariel to her need of love, Beatrice with her way of pushing people away, and Castro with his way of not being able to find friendship, they all ended up about love/affiliatio
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: suicidology
I thought this book was pretty good. It is the only book on suicidology that I've read so far that has offered solutions and therapy for people who are suicidal. The other books I've read have been statistics and information ABOUT suicide, but haven't mentioned how the therapeutic process works for people with this problem.

While the author offers therapeutic tips, throughout the book it is clear the author likely has never been suicidal himself. The author appears to be offering theories, but t
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
In The Suicidal Mind, Dr. Edwin Shneidman attempts to systematize committed suicides and the suicidal impulse via hundreds of collected suicide letters and by performing what he refers to as "psychological autopsies" on committed suicides. The way the information is presented is clean and some sections concerning a patient that Shneidman himself treated reminded me a bit of Oliver Sacks, though it seemed to me Shneidman's logical approach overpowered his empathy more often than not.
This is a sho
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
I thought I would like this book more than I did. It's a very interesting topic to me, but I found the book boring. Maybe it's because I'm not studying psychology and am more of a casual reader. I also tend to have a more sociological view of things thanks to my chosen major in college.

I felt like too much of the book was transcripts from his suicidal patients (which were frankly not that interesting) and not enough of the author's own analysis of them. I would have liked to see smaller chunks o
Emma Weine
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Helpful and relevant at the time of reading. I liked his coinage of the term/condition of 'psychache'. Especially helpful for those who wish to know exactly WHY and HOW their loved-ones suffer thoughts of suicide and, once having a better understanding psychache, what they should or should not do and what they CAN do whilst feeling so utterly helpless, lost and hopeless. Reading this gave me a boost up and out of the slippery-sided pit of despair when nothing else could. I'm very glad I read it ...more
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the first books about suicide that I decided to read. It's not a hefty volume, so it works really well as introduction to how people feel if you're one of the folks that have the "I don't get it, just get over it." mind set and feel that depression is totally self inflicted and that suicide just someone being a big baby.

This is a book that wont take a lot of your time that you can read and possibly come away with some insight and empathy.

(I sound bitter don't I?)
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This short book is a nice introduction into the kind of psychic pain that causes one to commit the ultimate act of freedom, the freedom to take one's own life. Throughout the book Shneidman writes with a humanness clearly respecting the humanity of the people he studies and chooses to use as case studies. It's a fairly practical book, but I think quite helpful in terms of learning how to work with suicidal folks.
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Persons who can handle very deep and emotional words.
Recommended to Cindy by: Tori Miller
Shelves: true-story, other
A very intense book which talks about and describes a persons thoughts and feelings. Very telling as far as knowing how the mind can work and take a person places that one hates to admit going to. The book also told of helpful suggestions and that living is a choice that should be made over suicide. A person needs to want to find and get the help needed to overcome ones depression.
Missives From
Jul 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shneidman manages to present the facts of suicide wrapped in intensely relevant case studies and makes science read like fiction. Every bit as interesting and insightful as Autopsy of Suicidal Mind. Anyone attempting to get into the head of a suicidal person or someone who might potentially be suicidal should read his work.
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you're looking for self help, this may not be the book for you. If you're looking for a clinical study of suicide, then this book is great. From the standpoint of someone who's never been severely depressed, it offers some good insights on how suicidal people think. If you've been there before, this book doesn't say anything you don't already know.
Kirk Johnson
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
full of heartbreaking excerpts from notes and tapes from the suicidal, this short book is about as long as it needs to be. the author's approach to prevention is likely helpful, and if nothing else it may help those affected to come to some understanding, and it serves as a good overview to the subject.
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
Lucid little book by a suicidologist who's been in the field over fifty years, yet writes perfectly (but not patronizingly) for the everyday person. It's insightful about the mental specifics that compose suicidal thoughts and desires. He includes three case studies.
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology, suicide
He is comprehensive in his research and findings on basic patterns seen with all suicides. Yes, all of them! Very insightful. It makes things make more sense, makes me more aware of human behavior, both mine and others.
I recommend!
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Dr. Edwin S. Shneidman (born c. 1918) is a noted American suicidologist/thanatologist. He with co-workers from the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center provided a major stimulus to research into suicide and its prevention. He was the founder of the American Association of Suicidology and of the principal United States journal for suicide studies, Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. He is Profe ...more

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