What Durkheim finds is that the factors associated with higher numbers of suicides must be those that relate to "the time when social life is at its height" Suicide , p. The time of day, the day of week, the season of the year, and so on, are not in themselves the reason for the changes in the number of suicides. Rather, the times when social life and interaction among people are greater, are also those associated with increased suicide. Durkheim concludes this section by saying quote 13 :. Social Explanation.
If voluntary deaths increase from January to July, it is not because heat disturbs the organism, but because social life is more intense. To be sure, this greater intensity derives from the greater ease of development of social life in the Summer than in the Winter, owing to the sun's position But the physical environment does not stimulate it directly; above all, it has no effect on the progression of suicide. The latter depends on social conditions. While this is not a proof or determination of what causes suicide yet, Durkheim notes that the causes must relate to collective life and must be such that these time factors can be incorporated into an explanation.
But the explanation must be social in nature, and cannot be simply related to natural factors, these natural factors must work socially, and affect some social aspects which are related to suicide. Note that Durkheim 's method here is very empirical, and he searches through various sorts of data and evidence to find factors associated with suicide. But the explanation is not simply a relation between these data and suicides. Rather he is searching for social causes or conditions that are expressed through these. That is, he uses data to discover patterns, but the patterns themselves are not the cause of the phenomenon.
Rather the cause is social, and the observed, empirical patterns constitute a means of finding underlying causes. Another factor that Durkheim considers is religion. While he does find that religion is associated with suicide, in the sense that Protestant countries and regions have higher suicide rates than do Catholic ones, religious doctrines are not an important factor in explaining these differences. That is, suicide is condemned more or less equally in each religion, and doctrinal statements concerning suicide are all negative.
If there is a difference between the two religions with respect to suicide rates, it must be in some aspect of social organization that differs between the two churches. But if this is the factor related to suicide, then it is the social organization that is the cause of the difference, not religion in itself.
Giddens notes p. Where there is more integration in family structure, the suicides are lesser in number. Durkheim argues that the most important aspects of social organization and collective life for explaining differences in suicide rates are the degree of integration into and regulation by society. For Durkheim, integration is the "degree to which collective sentiments are shared" and regulation refers to "the degree of external constraint on people. Catholicism is a more highly integrated religion than Protestantism, and it is in this that the difference in suicide rates is expressed.
That is, it is not the religious doctrines themselves but the different social organization of the two religions. As Giddens notes p. Those in larger families are less likely to commit suicide, whereas those in smaller families, or single, are more likely. Over time, various social factors also make their influence felt. Durkheim notes that there was a decline in the number of suicides in all the European countries in , a year of revolution and political change throughout Europe. Times of political crisis, war, and economic change are also associated with changes in the rate of suicide.
Each of these great social movements could be considered to be examples of social currents that have widespread impact within and across societies. Ritzer p. First, he argued that different collectivities have different collective consciousness or collective representation.
These produce different social currents, and these lead to different suicide rates. By studying different groups and societies, some of these currents can be analyzed, and the effect of these on suicide can be determined. Second, changes in the collective consciousness lead to changes in social currents.
These are then associated with changes in suicide rates quote 14 :. Sociological Explanation. The conclusion from all these facts is that the social suicide-rate can be explained only sociologically. At any given moment the moral constitution of society established the contingent of voluntary deaths. There is, therefore, for each people a collective force of a definite amount of energy, impelling men to self-destruction. The victim's acts which at first seem to express only his personal temperament are really the supplement and prolongation of a social condition which they express externally.
Each social group really has a collective inclination for the act, quite its own, and the source of all individual inclination, rather than the result. It is made up of the currents of egoism, altruism or anomy running through the society under consideration with the tendencies to languorous melancholy, active renunciation or exasperated weariness derivative from these currents. These tendencies of the whole social body, by affecting individuals, cause them to commit suicide.
The private experiences usually thought to be the proximate causes of suicide have only the influence borrowed from the victim's moral predisposition, itself and echo of the moral state of society. The manner in which social integration and regulation work can be better seen by examining the four fold classification of suicides that Durkheim developed. Durkheim ends his discussion of the organic-psychic and physical environmental factors by concluding that they cannot explain "each social group[s] By eliminating other explanations, Durkheim claims that these tendencies must depend on social causes and must be collective phenomena.
The key to each type is a social factor, with the degrees of integration and regulation into society being either too high or too low. The following discussion is drawn from Ritzer, pp. Egoistic Suicide. This is the type of suicide that occurs where the degree of social integration is low, and there is a sense of meaningless among individuals. In traditional societies, with mechanical solidarity, this is not likely to be the cause of suicide. There the strong collective consciousness gives people a broad sense of meaning to their lives. Within modern society, the weaker collective consciousness means that people may not see the same meaning in their lives, and unrestrained pursuit of individual interests may lead to strong dissatisfaction.
One of the results of this can be suicide.
Individuals who are strongly integrated into a family structure, a religious group, or some other type of integrative group are less likely to encounter these problems, and that explains the lower suicide rates among them. The factors leading to egoistic suicide can be social currents such as depression and disillusionment. For Durkheim, these are social forces or social facts, even though it is the depressed or melancholy individual who takes his or her life voluntarily.
The individual yields to the slightest shock of circumstance because the state of society has made him a ready prey to suicide. Altruistic Suicide. This is the type of suicide that occurs when integration is too great, the collective consciousness too strong, and the "individual is forced into committing suicide. Integration may not be the direct cause of suicide here, but the social currents that go along with this very high degree of integration can lead to this. Ritzer notes that some may "feel it is their duty" to commit suicide.
Examples in primitive society cited by Durkheim are suicides of those who are old and sick, suicides of women following the death of their husband, and suicides of followers after the death of a chief. According to Durkheim this type of suicide may actually "springs from hope, for it depends on the belief in beautiful perspectives beyond this life. Anomic Suicide. Anomie or anomy come from the Greek meaning lawlessness. Nomos means usage, custom, or law and nemein means to distribute.
Anomy thus is social instability resulting from breakdown of standards and values. Webster's Dictionary. This is a type of suicide related to too low a degree of regulation, or external constraint on people. As with the anomic division of labour, this can occur when the normal form of the division of labour is disrupted, and "the collectivity is temporarily incapable of exercising its authority over individuals.
This can occur either during periods associated with economic depression stock market crash of the s or over-rapid economic expansion. New situations with few norms, the regulative effect of structures is weakened, and the individual may feel rootless. In this situation, an individual may be subject to anomic social currents. People that are freed from constraints become "slaves to their passions, and as a result, according to Durkheim's view, commit a wide range of destructive acts, including killing themselves in greater numbers than they ordinarily would.
In addition to economic anomie, Durkheim also spends time examining domestic anomie. For example, suicides of family members may occur after the death of a husband or wife. Fatalistic Suicide. When regulation is too strong, Durkheim considers the possibility that "persons with futures pitilessly blocked and passions violently choked by oppressive discipline" may see no way out. The individual sees no possible manner in which their lives can be improved, and when in a state of melancholy, may be subject to social currents of fatalistic suicide.
Durkheim's analysis of suicide shows the manner in which the social as opposed to the psychological and biological can be emphasized, and how it results in some useful ways of analyzing the actions of individuals. Suicide rates as expressions of social currents are social facts that affect societies and individuals within those societies.
The study of psychology is still useful in attempting to determine individual motives and the manner in which the specific circumstances can lead to an individual deciding to voluntarily end their life. But an analysis of these circumstances should be set within the context of the social currents to which that individual is subject. The method of analysis of Durkheim should prove useful even today. In terms of suicide, the social causes are now well recognized, and any analysis of suicide would have to include these.
Some combination of egoistic, anomic, and fatalistic types of suicide may help explain and understand this phenomenon. More generally, the method of Suicide is exemplary in providing researchers with a means of understanding the social factors that are associated with particular phenomena.
Durkheim examines patterns on the data in an attempt to determine how social factors can play a role in explaining these phenomena. This might be applied to sociobiological arguments today. The trends themselves are not the cause, but indicative of a cause, a social explanation has to be found. Social Facts and Social Aspects. These are real things that do affect people. He had a strong structural view of society, and the manner in which each of us is influenced by these social facts and how we must fit into these.
Durkheim attempted to see a role for the social as distinguished from the economic, psychological and biological. This can be seen in his view of the social influences on suicide rates, where he takes a wide variety of factors and considers their influence on the tendency or aptitude for suicide. The effect of each of these factors is not a simple connection between the factor and the tendency to suicide, but must be mediated by social factors. In particular, the social factors that he identified were the degree of integration and the degree of regulation. For modern theories of sociobiology, and the influence of genetics, Durkheim's approach could prove a useful counter.
Division of Labour and forms of solidarity. Durkheim again shows how the division of labour is set within a social context, so that economic relationships are governed by social conventions that may not always be apparent. Durkheim's view that the division of labour does not result in a disintegration of society, but changes the form of social solidarity provides a useful way of examining modern society. The last few pages of Giddens' discussion of Durkheim examines individuality and individual freedom within an overall structure Giddens, pp.
Durkheim notes that individualism is a product of long historical developments within western society, with the French Revolution giving a "decisive impetus to the growth of moral individualism. Part of this view is the sanctity of the individual, the worth of the human individual, individual rights and the encouragement of individual action and initiative.
But Durkheim notes that these themselves are social facts in the sense that these ideas are social products, created by society. Durkheim further argues that they are not the product of egoism, that is, self-interest as the basic motivation for human action. While the development of individualism will promote self-interest and egoism, this is not the source of individualism, and an unchecked development of egoism would destroy society. This is not what happens though, except perhaps under exceptional circumstances.
What Durkheim argues is that freedom is not to be identified with liberation from all restraints, this results in anomie Giddens, p. Rather, freedom exists in being "master of oneself" by "putting oneself under the wing of society. The notion of rights and responsibilities may be a means of tying these together. Sociological Approaches. Mental illness is a myth, but communicating with spirits is completely legit?
You are entitled to your opinion, but this is one area where it might be best to keep it to yourself, Volchek. I, and thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of others, live with mental illness every day. Not to mention, some people, like myself, have very serious physical health conditions that we cannot afford to manage without insurance and would invariably die in a short period of time were that insurance gone.
So industry or not, some of these things are necessary evils. However, I also know that I have serious limitations and issues that effect all areas of functioning in my life and are often frightening, off-putting or disturbing to neuro-typicals. Hi, This is a good post, indeed a great job..
List of suicides
You must have done good research for the work, i appreciate your efforts.. Looking for more updates from your side. I know for a fact that Bipolar with Psychosis is a diagnosis that can be given to clients, many of which with symptoms like V. Just read this piece for the very interesting last piece of prose to be written by Virginia Woolf. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours. Mental illness is as much of a myth as the idea of someone being an artist. These are constructs from our social environment, and are only valid within its context. Although tragic in its timing… It is not an act if fiction but a very biographical piece and in a way it puts all the little bits of her that she let go in her work….
This letter is extraordinary for it conveys extreme clarity about how she feels about her illness and the pain it inflicted on her… All what she had left is her endless love for her husband…how beautiful that is, how tragic to not feel that you are living only through someone else… I completly understand her anguish and her despair…. I am a long time fan and feel the curing mental diseases is as important as the curing of cancer.
Hugs, Barbara. She was oppressed. When you are trapped and isolated all sorts of things happen. Women at that time had no freedoms all that they did was through the choice of the men in their lives. Her madness she thought was through her own fault and as she explains she was a burden to her husband. The culture that she lived in viewed women as such a burden.
I would argue her suicide was the result of her lack of freedom and oppression as a human being. No person as brilliant as she was could deal with such a low existence. Sad to know those words were not fiction. Just sad. I am from a province in which there are so many pleasurable pastimes given to men. But only men mainly. There is strict evidence revealing Schizophrenia. I would call it just as I do happen to view it. All writers hear voices. Words ring like bells. Obviously recurring.
Could of played a major roll in V. Ws life. Interesting to find that Mike Tyson boxer? Schophrenia, faith, the hereafter, the over other planets found recently, all forms of cancer, including tumors.. By the way…Does anyone know what happened to Muhammed to change his personality? He was a kind preacher in Mecca and cold blooded taxing authority in Medina. Yes…I forgot to mention how mental conditions can affect more than those near by.
They can affect the entire world. Look at Islam.
For most of the history of the planet women could not legally own land. Was that the case with Virginia? Maybe there was more to Virginia than just being a gay married woman. Maybe she really liked, or even loved , her husband, but would always be attracted to women. Maybe she went mad every time her long term female lover fell for another woman.
Maybe her heart was simply broken. People who kill themselves are profoundly mentally disturbed…! However, society now recognizes suicide as a legitimate way to die. Losing a loved one to suicide is extremely and unspeakably sad for the people left behind because they invariably think that there was something they could do to prevent it..! Once someone has seriously decided to kill themselves, there is nothing you can do to save them.
They are determined and will find a way regardless of what we do to try to help them. Losing a loved one to suicide is extremely and unspeakably sad for the people left behind because they invariably think that there was something they could have done done to prevent it..! They are determined and will find a way regardless of what we do to try to help them live. Losing a loved one to suicide is extremely and unspeakably sad for the people left behind because they invariably think that there was something they could have done to prevent it..!
In all these responses I am reading, there is no empathy or understanding of that actual feeling called depression. A better word is pain. Emotional pain that can not be ended with any pain killer you might like to pop. Pain of isolation, pain of unending lack of joy, pain of no laughter, pain of never feeling loved, pain of being disaproved of,and pain of being. Yes the colours of the landscape may be beautiful, but us sad humans need to share our thoughts, it is a kind of oxygen for us.
Not dissimilar to horses needing the reassuring company of their own kind. Being out of sync with anyone close by creates that black hole of isolation. Mental illness is a myth?? For people, possibly, in California, where mental illness is the norm. And a few other places. But mental illness is very real. I mean, how else could have so many people have elected Barack Obama for president?
Anyone who says that mental illness is a myth does not know what they are talking about. Just talk to me for an hour when I am not taking my medication. I will stay in bed for two weeks straight during my low times and cannot move due to the depression. Thank gawd I live in a day and age where there is help avaliable. Unfortunately Virginia did not have the help available to her that we do now. The usual mix of personal experience, the sharp end, versus the thickness of indoctrination which seeks,so disparigingly, with dismissive, impatient words, to decry the validity of the experiential.
In the case of mental dis-ease, unwellness and every plagued epithet that can be imagined in trying to describe it all,there will always be this divide. Those who suffer know the territory and can recognise it at 1, paces when they see it. Why does this affliction, that your judgmentalism confirms you have no knowledge of, cause such vehemence in you against the sufferer?
Why this condition? What, precisely, is it that you fear so much? Tradtional societies have much much higher recovery rates for schizophrenia etc etc because they treat it like a spiritual illness. Shaman and healers are suppose to have a relationship with the otherworld. All to often some of our most talented and beautiful people are taken from us for whatever reason, to another dimension perhaps? It does seem however that when we are endowed with certain exceptional attributes we are definitely lacking in others that longevity of life requires.
Sad but I believe this to be true. Sadly, this attitude of yours that many share keeps people from effective treatment. Science is not perfect, it is a process of learning but it has made amazing strides in the treatment of so very many illnesses, which I think you may be taking for granted right now, whereas mysticism, in all of the time it has been around has certainly never nearly wiped out smallpox, or polio or turburculosis like science has, which is really just the study of nature.
So,back here on planet Earth, I much prefer my bi polar and schizophrenic friends when they are ON their meds, attending appointments and listening to their doctors because they suffer less. Bottom line. They suffer less. Name required. Email required. Click here to cancel reply.
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