This was written to me recently
“I am not one who fears the end of life. I think when it comes it will be a relief. Can finally rest.”
A number of suicidal people, possibly a significant number, have a post suicide fantasy that involves magical thinking. They think and operate like after death they will have some level of consciousness. This quote gives an example of that. One can only feel relief and rest if they are conscious at some level. If there is no consciousness then one can not experience the feelings.
Of course once one is dead there is no consciousness, there is nothing and hence those feelings cannot be experienced. It seems pertinent that one should seek out to find if there is a post suicide fantasy in the client. If there is, then one needs to expose the magical thinking such as in this diagram.
This can also be particularly true in Samsonic suicides when the death is seen as a way of achieving vengeance on some one else.
Others have noted this before,
“The suicidal person expects and understands that his body will die but the person can imagine there is another part of himself that can continue to live in a conscious body-less state that is unaffected by the physical death of the body.”
Indeed Harry Boyd says, “My impression is that the suicidal patient does not, on the Child level, really conceive of his death as terminal.”
If there is a post suicide fantasy like above then that would be seen as increased suicide risk factor. The therapist needs to address it in some way, essentially to decontaminate the Adult and the magical thinking.
I can add in P1= When I die I’ll be punished for what I just did!
Tony, thank you for this piece. I have read a number of articles expressing similar thoughts – none from a TA perspective though – and while I recognise the possibility of truth in the idea, especially in those with a belief in some sort of afterlife, I always wonder if it is more a question of our interpretation of the language rather than an example of magical thinking.
I work extensively with suicidal people and I remember being struck when one said to me: “People are only truly at peace when they’re dead. It’s a time of peace.” On the surface of course this is utter fantasy but when we dug down, what he was really saying wasn’t that he would be ‘experiencing’ peace, but that he wouldn’t be experiencing anything. Life, for him, was suffering. Absence of life, therefore, would be absence of suffering.
So, if I could add a subordinate clause to the A2 statement in your diagrams, it would read: “When I die there will be no relief and rest, there will be nothing… which seems preferable to the unbearable something I’m living with now.”
I’m not convinced that it’s post-suicide fantasy we need to be addressing, it’s pre-suicide ‘reality’ – in whatever the form the sufferers are experiencing it.
Thank you for your comment. my response would be to your person. In an absence of life there is not an absence of suffering there is nothing.