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November 1969

Suicidal Solution as a Function of Ego-Closeness—Ego-Distance

Author Affiliations

Topeka, Kan; Clarinda, Iowa; Topeka, Kan
From the Department of Research, The Menninger Foundation, Topeka, Kan (Drs. Harold M. Voth and Cancro). Dr. Albert C. Voth was formerly with the Department of Psychology, Mental Health Institute, Clarinda, Iowa.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(5):536-545. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740230024004

TWENTY years ago A. C. Voth1 suggested a relationship between suicide and a limited capacity to experience autokinesis, a phenomenon which is best observed as apparent movement of a stationary pinpoint of light in a totally dark room. This relationship, which he had observed clinically ten years earlier, led to the prediction that persons who experience little or no autokinesis should be more prone to suicide and suicide attempts. The rationale underlying this prediction was based on the field-theoretical reality concepts of Kurt Lewin2 and J. F. Brown.3 It seemed logical to predict that persons who become entrapped in a rigid reality field of experience might, under conditions of unbearable personal stress, "choose" suicide as a means for escaping from their entrapment and distress. The ability to experience autokinesis was considered as a means for ascertaining the individual's ability

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