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[evol-psych] History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture

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  • Ian Pitchford
    Psychiatric Services 50:1643-1644, December 1999 © 1999 American Psychiatric Association Book Review History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture by
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 29, 1999
      Psychiatric Services 50:1643-1644, December 1999
      © 1999 American Psychiatric Association

      Book Review

      History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture
      by George Minois (1995); translated from the French by Lydia G. Cochrane;
      Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, 387 pages, $35.95
      Andrew Edmund Slaby, Ph.D., M.D.

      Albert Camus stated in Le Mythe de Sisyphe in 1942 that there is but one truly
      serious philosophical problem-suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth
      living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy, or, as
      Shakespeare said through Hamlet, "To be, or not to be: that is the question."

      So too George Minois traces the evolution of philosophical thought on
      self-inflicted death over three millennia. The power of the work is that the
      data supplied provide insights not only for philosophers but also for
      psychiatrists, economists, historians, epidemiologists, anthropologists, and
      literary scholars interested in the multiple factors that impact the decision
      to die by one's own hand and ways in which such deaths may be reported.
      Although genetic factors determining impulsivity and manifestation of
      psychiatric illness clearly play a critical role, other factors impact the
      force of these variables.

      Full text:
      http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/50/12/1643
    • Ian Pitchford
      Psychiatric Services 50:1643-1644, December 1999 © 1999 American Psychiatric Association Book Review History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture by
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 30, 1999
        Psychiatric Services 50:1643-1644, December 1999
        © 1999 American Psychiatric Association

        Book Review

        History of Suicide: Voluntary Death in Western Culture
        by George Minois (1995); translated from the French by Lydia G. Cochrane;
        Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999, 387 pages, $35.95
        Andrew Edmund Slaby, Ph.D., M.D.

        Albert Camus stated in Le Mythe de Sisyphe in 1942 that there is but one truly
        serious philosophical problem-suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth
        living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy, or, as
        Shakespeare said through Hamlet, "To be, or not to be: that is the question."

        So too George Minois traces the evolution of philosophical thought on
        self-inflicted death over three millennia. The power of the work is that the
        data supplied provide insights not only for philosophers but also for
        psychiatrists, economists, historians, epidemiologists, anthropologists, and
        literary scholars interested in the multiple factors that impact the decision
        to die by one's own hand and ways in which such deaths may be reported.
        Although genetic factors determining impulsivity and manifestation of
        psychiatric illness clearly play a critical role, other factors impact the
        force of these variables.

        Full text:
        http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/50/12/1643
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