The Murder of Oneself
Uploaded by palma on Oct 15, 2000
Sam Vaknin's Psychology, Philosophy, Economics and Foreign Affairs Web Sites
Those who believe in the finality of death (i.e., that there is no after-life) – they are the ones who advocate suicide and regard it as a matter of personal choice. On the other hand, those who firmly believe in some form of existence after corporeal death – they condemn suicide and judge it to be a major sin. Yet, rationally, the situation should have been reversed : it should have been easier for someone who believed in continuity after death to terminate this phase of existence on the way to the next. Those who faced void, finality, non-existence, vanishing – should have been greatly deterred by it and should have refrained even from entertaining the idea. Either the latter do not really believe what they profess to believe – or something is wrong with rationality. One would tend to suspect the former.
Suicide is very different from self sacrifice, avoidable martyrdom, engaging in life risking activities, refusal to prolong one’s life through medical treatment, euthanasia, overdosing and self inflicted death that is the result of coercion. What is common to all these is the operational mode: a death caused by one’s own actions. In all these behaviours, a foreknowledge of the risk of death is present coupled with its acceptance. But all else is so different that they cannot be regarded as belonging to the same class. Suicide is chiefly intended to terminate a life – the other acts are aimed at perpetuating, strengthening and defending values.
Those who commit suicide do so because they firmly believe in the finiteness of life and in the finality of death. They prefer termination to continuation. Yet, all the others, the observers of this phenomenon, are horrified by this preference. They abhor it. This has to do with out understanding of the meaning of life.
Ultimately, life has only meanings that we attribute and ascribe to it. Such a meaning can be external (God’s plan) or internal (meaning generated through arbitrary selection of a frame of reference). But, in any case, it must be actively selected, adopted and espoused. The difference is that, in the case of external meanings, we have no way to judge their validity and quality (is God’s plan for us a good one or not?). We just “take them on” because they are big, all encompassing and of...