Gendered endings: narratives of male and female suicides in the South African Lowveld.
ABSTRACT Durkheim's classical theory of suicide rates being a negative index of social solidarity downplays the salience of gendered concerns in suicide. But gendered inequalities have had a negative impact: worldwide significantly more men than women perpetrate fatal suicides. Drawing on narratives of 52 fatal suicides in Bushbuckridge, South Africa, this article suggests that Bourdieu's concepts of 'symbolic violence' and 'masculine domination' provide a more appropriate framework for understanding this paradox. I show that the thwarting of investments in dominant masculine positions have been the major precursor to suicides by men. Men tended to take their own lives as a means of escape. By contrast, women perpetrated suicide to protest against the miserable consequences of being dominated by men. However, contra the assumption of Bourdieu's concept of 'habitus', the narrators of suicide stories did reflect critically upon gender constructs.
Article: Alienation and leadership.Psychiatry Interpersonal & Biological Processes 06/1961; 24(2)Suppl:1-6. · 2.58 Impact Factor
Article: Suicide as escape from self.[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Suicide is analyzed in terms of motivations to escape from aversive self-awareness. The causal chain begins with events that fall severely short of standards and expectations. These failures are attributed internally, which makes self-awareness painful. Awareness of the self's inadequacies generates negative affect, and the individual therefore desires to escape from self-awareness and the associated affect. The person tries to achieve a state of cognitive deconstruction (constricted temporal focus, concrete thinking, immediate or proximal goals, cognitive rigidity, and rejection of meaning), which helps prevent meaningful self-awareness and emotion. The deconstructed state brings irrationality and disinhibition, making drastic measures seem acceptable. Suicide can be seen as an ultimate step in the effort to escape from self and world.Psychological Review 02/1990; 97(1):90-113. · 9.80 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Cultural explanations of psychopathology in the West have rarely employed models derived by anthropologists for small-scale non-literate communities. Some general features of those ritual patterns usually classed as 'culture-bound syndromes' are applicable to Western neurosis. Such reactions articulate both personal predicament and public concerns, usually core structural oppositions between age groups or the sexes. They gain their power by relying on certain unquestionable assumptions which, although beyond everyday jural relationships, articulate such relationships. In the case of Western reactions, such 'mystical sanction' is provided by biomedicine. Theoretical paradigms emphasize either the individual pragmatic or expressive aspects, or social homeostasis.Culture Medicine and Psychiatry 10/1987; 11(3):289-335. · 1.29 Impact Factor