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July 1961

The Suicidal Fit: A Psychobiologic Study on Puerto Rican Immigrants

Author Affiliations

Chief, Neuropsychiatric Consultation Service, Lincoln Hospital.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1961;5(1):76-83. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710130078009

Numerous studies have been undertaken in an attempt to arrive at a closer understanding of the phenomenon of suicide and to find some effective means of preventing it. Most of the literature presents statistics which have been interpreted from a psychologic, sociologic, and cultural point of view in an effort to explain why people try to commit suicide. To my mind, however, the important question is not why someone attempts suicide. Rather, I am concerned with the clinical picture of a suicidal person—what goes on in his mind, what psychobiologic process is it that is able to overpower the most vital protective forces of life, the instinct of self-preservation and the fear of death.

Objective and Method  What is it that precipitates such a complete and paradoxical change in basic human behavior? This study tried to find the answers. Although we used psychiatric

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