Self and Suicidal Poets

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Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby Nibbida » Tue Dec 21, 2010 7:20 pm

A study of suicidal vs non-suicidal poets found that the suicidal ones used more individual self references (I, me, my) than collective references (we, us, our). However they did not differ in terms of positive or negative emotion words. It just seems to go along with the idea of a separate self as a main factor in suffering.



Word Use in the Poetry of Suicidal and Nonsuicidal Poets
Psychosomatic Medicine 63:517-522 (2001)
Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, MA and James W. Pennebaker, PhD

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether distinctive features of language could be discerned in the poems of poets who committed suicide and to test two suicide models by use of a text-analysis program.

METHOD: Approximately 300 poems from the early, middle, and late periods of nine suicidal poets and nine nonsuicidal poets were compared by use of the computer text analysis program, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC). Language use within the poems was analyzed within the context of two suicide models.

RESULTS: In line with a model of social integration, writings of suicidal poets contained more words pertaining to the individual self and fewer words pertaining to the collective than did those of nonsuicidal poets. In addition, the direction of effects for words pertaining to communication was consistent with the social integration model of suicide.

CONCLUSIONS: The study found support for a model that suggests that suicidal individuals are detached from others and are preoccupied with self. Furthermore, the findings suggest that linguistic predictors of suicide can be discerned through text analysis.



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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby Individual » Wed Dec 22, 2010 4:12 pm

If they did further research, they would find two things:

  • Excessive usage of self-references is correlated with all sorts of social ills, like poverty and crime.
  • The correlation is not 1:1, possibly might even seem insignificant statistically, because people use self-references for different reasons; Buddhas use them without sakkaya-ditthi.
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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby Nibbida » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:48 pm

Individual wrote:If they did further research, they would find two things:

[list][*]Excessive usage of self-references is correlated with all sorts of social ills, like poverty and crime.


Do you know of studies that demonstrate this, or are you speaking in general terms? I only ask because if there are such studies, I'd be interesting in digging them up.

Thanks.
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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby Viscid » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:18 pm

Nibbida wrote:A study of suicidal vs non-suicidal poets found that the suicidal ones used more individual self references (I, me, my) than collective references (we, us, our). However they did not differ in terms of positive or negative emotion words. It just seems to go along with the idea of a separate self as a main factor in suffering.


That's pretty damn interesting research. Thanks for that.

Individual wrote:Excessive usage of self-references is correlated with all sorts of social ills, like poverty and crime.


Highly doubt that, Indie. The ability to develop a separate, individual self is a luxury.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James
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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby phil » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:37 pm

You'll find that the Buddha did not discourage having self-esteem to people starting out on the path. Any desire to leap immediately into an appreciation of anatta without exploring a new sense of self-esteem rooted in Dhamma is likely to be premature, in my opinion. To have solid sila (necessary foundation for real understanding of anatta), we have to feel good about ourselves, and we will for the time being inevitably feel good about ourselves with atta view. Maybe we'll be feeling good about ourselves being able to reflect on and discuss anatta, but it will be atta view. That's my opinion!

So I would guess the point is that the poets who commited suicide lacked self-esteem, not that they wrote about self.
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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby Viscid » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:45 pm

phil wrote:So I would guess the point is that the poets who commited suicide lacked self-esteem, not that they wrote about self.


Well, they wrote about self because they were preoccupied with self, likely due to low self-esteem. Thinking about self causes self to grow.
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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby Individual » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:30 am

Nibbida wrote:Do you know of studies that demonstrate this, or are you speaking in general terms?

General terms. :)
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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby kirk5a » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:31 am

Viscid wrote:The ability to develop a separate, individual self is a luxury.

Oh I highly doubt that. I think self-clinging is an equal opportunity affliction found in all ages, sexes, races, creeds, and socio-economic status. The underlying tendency is present at birth.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Self and Suicidal Poets

Postby phil » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:59 am

Viscid wrote:
phil wrote:So I would guess the point is that the poets who commited suicide lacked self-esteem, not that they wrote about self.


Well, they wrote about self because they were preoccupied with self, likely due to low self-esteem. Thinking about self causes self to grow.


Hi Viscid. "Thinking about self causes self to grow." That's true, nicely said. But I have high self esteem, and like it or not a lot of conceit about my morality compared to other people around me, and I'm kind of preoccupied by self, so I don't think being preoccupied with self and low self-esteem go together. In my case I'm hoping that my inflated self-esteem, morality based self-esteem, will be easier to pop with insight or take apart with insight than a knotted, remorse curdled self image that forms for people who don't have firm morality....ok, that may be my own theorizing talking or there may be a grain of Dhamma truth in it - it may have something to do with why the Buddha encourages self-esteem at times in the suttanta, especially in Dhammapada and Anguttara NIkaya, in my limited reading. But never mind, off topic :smile:
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)


Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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