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March 1959

Suicide, Menticide, and Psychic Homicide

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1959;81(3):360-362. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1959.02340150092010

Original sin is using empathy not for sympathy but for antipathy.

In this clinical study I wish to call attention to the crime of psychic homicide, which is usually committed as a crime by omission. It is only within the last few years that I myself realized how some suicide victims are unwittingly propelled into the act.

The act of suicide is always committed in relation to fellow beings. However subtle and unconscious this relation may be, other people play a role in the sum total of motivations of those who commit the final deed. That is why the bystanders are afraid of suicide, and why it is in some countries a legally punishable act—as, for instance, in England—because the self-chosen death burdens the other man's conscience.

Psychiatrists agree that punishment of parents or spouses or bosses is one of the most frequent motivations of suicide. This form of mental