This paper is about the complexities of working with suicidal patients by focusing on the concept of suicide addiction. Based on the author’s successful extended psychoanalytic work with a suicidal patient and informed by her long experience with the methods of Heinz Kohut’s empathic attunement, she proposes that some patients conceal their suicidal thoughts and use them, as others use alcohol or drugs. This suicide addiction, as it came to be seen through therapy, contained all of the characteristics of addiction with a particular emphasis on secrecy.
It is also proposed that a significant number of suicidal patients are addicted to thoughts of suicide. The aim of this article is to share this understanding with other clinicians and to the public, to alert them to particular signs that characterize the patient whose own death has become a secret obsession.
Keywords: suicide, addiction, trauma, secrecy, empathic attunement, suicide prevention, PTSD.
[The author declares that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this paper.]
About The Author
Beverly Kolsky, LCSW, BCD-P
Beverly Kolsky, LCSW, BCD-P is a psychoanalyst who has been practicing for more than 30 years. She has lived and worked both in England and in the United States. Her theoretical background is an eclectic mix including British object relations, combined with the work of Carl Jung, and most importantly for this subject, the practice of Heinz Kohut’s Self Psychology.
Ms. Kolsky holds an undergraduate degree in English from Boston University, an MSW from New York University, and a certificate in psychoanalysis from The New York Institute for Psychoanalytic Self Psychology. She also received training at the TavistockClinic inLondonwhere she worked on a teaching project under the auspices of its Institute for Marital Studies. While in London, she was affiliated with the Society for Analytic Psychology and the Guild of Psychotherapists. She is in private practice in Englewood, New Jersey.
Contact information for the author:
163 Engle Street, Bldg. 5, Englewood, New Jersey, 07631