Modern Psychology and Suicide

Feb 5, 2021 | Advertising, For Therapists, Mental Illness

Modern psychology is framed as the last defense against a suicidal person’s impulses but this is framing it too charitably.

Modern psychology is all about the atomized individual. It is wrong to need people as it is wrong to have people to need you. This weakens social obligations. It’s even considered abuse to threaten suicide because others’ comfort is deemed more important than your existence. Modern psychology revolves around autonomy and personal choice and those two things together play an important role in suicide. We teach people that everyone is responsible for their own feelings but don’t realize the implications of this when there is a suicide.

Expectations of happiness and success are making people closer to the bottom miserable. Modern psychology plays lip service to the idea of contentment but as a driver of culture via advertising and addictive mobile apps it is more than happy to blast late stage capitalism’s version of success and correct being into our faces. The prescient Arcade Fire song Creature Comfort summarized it well, “Born in a diamond mine / It’s all around you, but you can’t touch it”. A lot has been written about this but keep in mind it is business to business psychology, where businesses harness psychology to manipulate the public via advertising and addictive mobile apps, that is producing this. Through all of human history life has been mostly miserable but the difference was people didn’t expect to be happy most of the time. This is a very modern thing. Feeling bad is universal but feeling bad about feeling bad is relatively new.

Psychology doesn’t possess the means to give people the will to live. Psychologists are in above their heads being expected to instill in people the will to live. Often long before the actual suicide people have lost the will to live and they are just going through the motions waiting for an exit. Belief in the afterlife was a powerful deterrent for suicide not just because of threat of hell but because of the fact you would see people who survived your suicide again. Psychology can’t strike from beyond the grave and that puts it at a disadvantage when trying to prevent suicide.


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