Thoughts on Suicide

This page is dedicated to the memory of Wendell Jackson, “a young, bright student, a remarkable Denisonian with a wonderful energy about him,” and who “had an amazing ability to bring people together. He walked across this campus creating friendships with a huge spectrum of people. He saw differences as an opportunity to be challenged and to learn” (President Weinberg).

He left us too soon.  But it’s never too late to learn about suicidal thinking and save lives.

Juliane Werding “Am Tag als Conny Kramer starb” 

Thoughts on Suicide


Suicide is a complex malaise. Sociologists have shown that suicide rates vary with factors like war and unemployment; psychoanalysts argue that it is rage toward a loved one that is directed inward; psychiatrists see it as a biochemical imbalance. No one approach holds the answer: It’s all that and much more …”

Edwin Shneidman, Psychache

“Each way to suicide is its own: intensely private, unknowable, and terrible. Suicide will have seemed to its perpetrator the last and best of bad possibilities, and any attempt by the living to chart this final terrain of life can be only a sketch, maddeningly incomplete.”

Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide       


Novelist William Styron in Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness recounts his struggle with suicidal depression capturing vividly the heavy, inescapable pain that can lead to suicide: “What I had begun to discover is that, mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience, the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain. But it is not an immediately identifiable pain, like that of a broken limb. It may be more accurate to say that despair, owing to some evil trick played upon the sick brain by the inhabiting psyche, comes to resemble the diabolical discomfort of being imprisoned in a fiercely overheated room. And because no breeze stirs this cauldron, because there is no escape from this smothering confinement, it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion.”


Further recommended reading41965YQ0J5L._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_

Comprehending Suicide by Edwin Shneidman

November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide by George Howe Holt 

New York Times Article on Suicide

Collection of Psychoanalytic Sites 

The Suicidal Mind by Edwin Shneidman and The 10 Commonalities in Suicide

The Bell Jar and Poems by Sylvia Plathimages-5

The Sorrows of Young Werther by J.W. v. Goethe


Crisis Hotline Director Alan Ross Explains How To Help Someone With Suicidal Thoughts

Learning about suicide and suicide prevention

National Suicide Prevention Week – September 7 – 13, 2015

Suicide and Depression Student Guidebook

Affordable Colleges Online Resource Center

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

National 24/7 suicide hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)

Columbus, Ohio Suicide hotline: (614) 221-5445

Military Veterans Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 1)

Suicide Hotline in Spanish: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 2)

LGBT Youth Suicide Hotline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR


Image Copyright by Christian Faur

WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY is September 10, 2015!!

International Association for Suicide Prevention 

Check out Tweets Hashtag  and !


Kurt Grahnke and Dr. Marlene Kocan discuss the “New Freud”


Kurt Grahnke, Denison University German major, presented the results of his summer scholar program and his semester-long directed studies work with Gabriele Dillmann in front of a very interested and highly engaged audience at the latest event offered by the Association of Psychoanalytic Thought (APT) at the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute (CPI) on Friday, October 17th.

Grahnke’s comparative  study of the new translation of Sigmund Freud’s work, edited by Adam Phillips for Penguin’s Modern Classics Series, with the Standard Edition yielded fascinating results about how we can better understand Freud’s diverging reception in the humanities vs. that by the scientific or medical communities. Essentially, Kurt asked the provocative question: was Freud primarily a humanistic or a scientific thinker and how did the Standard Edition contribute to that artificial dichotomy? In his exploration, Kurt focused primarily on Freud’s pivotal work The Ego and the Id in a side by side reading of the original German text in comparison with the SE and new Penguin edition. This is the first time that an undergraduate student presented his work at the institute. It was very well received.CPI_APT Talk_Kurt_Ego and Id

Psychoanalyst and scholar, Dr. Marlene Kocan, was the formal respondent to Kurt’s presentation. Her insightful talk showed how relevant and important Freud’s work continues to be for both psychoanalytic and non-psychoanalytic scholars and therapeutic practitioners alike.

The intense discussion that followed both talks further provides evidence of the timeliness and pertinence of the ideas presented by the speakers. In the audience were faculty members from the ICP, the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, and practicing analysts, which provided an opportunity for a uniquely informed discussion from many different psychoanalytic and philosophical perspectives.

Kurt was joined by fellow Denisonians, students from the Denison Seminar “The Renaissance of Psychoanalytic Thought: Studying Freud in the 21st Century,” taught by APT’s new board member, Professor Gabriele Dillmann. The group enjoyed a traditional German-Austrian meal at Mecklenburg Gardens before this intellectually stimulating event.

Special thanks go to Dr. Norman Hirsch, president of the APT, and the board members of the APT, for inviting Kurt Grahnke and Dr. Kocan and making this exciting event possible.

The whole event was captured digitally, which you can visit or revisit here:

photo 3

Modern Neuroscience and Freud Event

The Association for Psychoanalytic Thought offered another superb event this past Friday at the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute. With renewed interest in Freud’s scientific ideas by contemporary leading neuroscientists such as Mark Solms and Oliver Turnbull, not to forget the role Freud had played in Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel’s life and work, this event was especially timely and relevant. (Also Discover Mag currently has a cover article on Freud’s “second-coming”.)

Konstantin Bakhurin who is completing his PhD in the Neuroscience program at UCLA, gave a highly informative talk  as the first of two speakers on the subject of contemporary neuroscience and Freud. His topic: Learning-dependent modulation and potential neurological correlates for past experience influencing present behavior; a model to provide understanding of Freud’s ID, Ego, and Superego as ‘residing’ in the brain as an effect of its organization and interaction function. I especially appreciated Konstantin’s cultural approach to Freud and psychoanalytic thought in his introduction providing us with the context in which psychoanalytic ideas – and precursors to those – were shaped and processed by thinkers, scientists, and artists alike. This culture of cross-fertilization set the tone in the late 19th century for the advancement of psychoanalytic thought and this renewed, respectful treatment of Freud’s scientific ideas within a growing neuropsychoanalytic community promises to lead to a fruitful period for collaborative research between the arts, humanities and sciences. (In this context also of interest is Eric Kandel’s new book The Age of Insight and an interview by Die Zeit with the author.)

For Konstantin’s full talk, please visit here:

Further suggested readings:

Linden, D.J. (2007) The accidental mind: How brain evolution has given us love, memory, dreams, and God. (Book Review)

Burton, Robert (2013) A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind

Demasio, Antonio (2012) Self Comes to Mind

Panksepp, Jaak (2012) Archaeology of Mind

Obituary of David Hubel

This is a great collection of review articles on the various kinds of representations of the outside world in the brain that are typically studied in neuroscience. People should have access to these through their university library:

The second talk by Dr. Marcia Kaplan, practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalytic therapist was equally inspiring and in the same spirit as the first speaker’s. Its topic: Findings regarding firing of single neurons correlating with psychoanalytic models explaining behavior; information-processing in “bottom-up” and “top-down” ways by both brain and mind. Rich in background information and context with helpful examples made for an illustrative presentation of complex ideas that became accessible to a appreciative and interested audience.

For Dr. Kaplan’s full talk, please visit here:

Further Readings:

Podcast by Jaak Panksepp

Panksepp, Jaak (2004) Affective Neuroscience

A special thank you to Christian Faur, Director of Collaborative Technologies Fine and Performing Arts at Denison University for professionally capturing and editing these talks.


The Renaissance of Psychoanalytic Thought: Studying Freud in the 21st Century

Check out my new course!

Comments and suggestions are welcome!!

This course is designed to incorporate CLAC (Cultures and Languages across the Curriculum) pedagogy. Please see the respective CLAC components within the individual topical units.

Title: The Renaissance of Psychoanalytic Thought: Studying Freud in the 21st Century


Modern Neuroscience and Freud Event

Modern Neuroscience and Freud

The Association for Psychoanalytic Thought (APT) is pleased to present “Modern Neuroscience and Freud” at 7PM on Friday, March 21st, 2014, at the Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute, 3001 Highland Ave, Cincinnati, Ohio 45219.

Konstantin Bakhurin of the systems/computational neuroscience laboratory at UCLA will discuss learning-dependent modulation and potential neurological correlates for past experience influencing present behavior; this is a possible model for understanding Freud’s ID, EGO, and SUPER-EGO as  ‘residing’ in the brain as an effect of its organization and interacting function.

Marcia Kaplan, Institute Faculty Member, Board certified in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, Board eligible in neurology, and practicing psychiatrist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, will discuss findings involving firing of single neurons correlating with psychoanalytic models explaining behavior and information – processing in “bottom-up” and “top-down” ways by both brain and mind.

Please RSVP early by calling 513-515-6836 or by emailing

Gabriele Dillmann and Christian Faur from Denison University will digitally capture this event and the institute will make it available on their website. A link will be posted here as well.

If you cannot attend but wish to participate with questions or comments, please submit these to me via email and I will post them here. 

Question from Kurt Grahnke, Denison University (submitted March 19th via email from Germany)

Although Freud did have a background in neurology, when he was developing his psychoanalytic theory, he did not intend for his models of the psyche to have neuroanatomical correlates. What sorts of problems do you run into when trying to map models of the psyche onto models of the brain, with the psyche having a different ontological nature than the brain? What benefits can be derived from doing so? – Perhaps a more holistic way of understanding behavior, specifically neurotic behavior?