Altruistic Suicide, Altruism,
Egoistic Suicide, Anomic
Suicide, Fatalistic Suicide
Suicide is the action or an act of
intentionally killing oneself. Suicide is the act of ending or terminating one's own life,
or "willful destruction of one's self-interest". Suicide may be a result of
depression, desperation or other undesirable situations.
In the current world, suicide is being used as a form of
protest, and in the form of kamikaze and suicide bombing as a military or terrorist
tactic. The Hindu funeral practice, Sati, where the widow would immolate herself on her
husband's funeral pyre is still prevalent in many parts of India.
Medically assisted suicide or euthanasia is a controversial ethical issue involving people
who are terminally ill.
Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) argued against Psychological Reductionism
in his study of suicide by arguing, and demonstrating, that even after providing a
psychological explanation for individual acts of suicide there was something still to
account for: the difference in suicide rates between societies.
Different types of Suicide includes
Altruistic Suicide, Egoistic Suicide, Anomic Suicide and Fatalistic Suicide.
Firearms are the most common method for suicide (55% of
suicides are committed with a firearm). So it is imperative that a suicidal person should
not have access to a firearm.
Suicide is NEVER the answer, getting help is the answer. If you are suicidal, have
attempted suicide, or are a suicide survivor, you will find help, hope, comfort,
understanding, support, love, and extensive resources here.
STOP A SUICIDE TODAY! [stopasuicide.org/]
Each year in America almost 30,000 people commit suicide, and 70% of those people tell
someone or give warning signs before taking their own life. Stop A Suicide Today! can
teach you how to recognize the warning signs of suicide in family, friends, co-workers,
and patients, and how to respond as you would do with any medical emergency.
Befrienders Worldwide [befrienders.org]
We work worldwide to provide emotional support, and reduce suicide. We listen to people
who are in distress. We don't judge them or tell them what to do - we listen. Befrienders
centers work to reduce suicide worldwide with 31,000 volunteers in almost 40 countries.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million
people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000
or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will
increase to one every 20 seconds.
* In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among
the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female). Suicide
attempts are up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicides.
* Although suicide rates have traditionally been highest amongst elderly males, rates
among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at
highest risk in a third of all countries.
* Mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated
with more than 90% of all cases of suicide.
* However, suicide results from many complex sociocultural factors and is more likely to
occur during periods of socioeconomic, family and individual crisis (e.g. loss of a loved
one, unemployment, sexual orientation, difficulties with developing one's identity,
disassociation from one's community or other social/belief group, and honour).
* In Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, the highest suicide rates are reported for both
men and women.
* The Eastern Mediterranean Region and Central Asia republics have the lowest suicide
* Nearly 30% of all suicides worldwide occur in India and China.
* Suicides globally by age are as follows: 55% are aged between 15 to 44 years and 45% are
aged 45 years and over.
* Youth suicide is increasing at the greatest rate.
In the US, the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention reports that:
* Overall, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death for all US Americans, and is the
third leading cause of death for young people 15-24 years.
* Although suicide is a serious problem among the young and adults, death rates continue
to be highest among older adults ages 65 years and over.
* Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than are females. However, females
are more likely to attempt suicide than are males.
Maithri is a voluntary organisation working to provide confidential emotional support to
distressed persons, who may be in danger of taking their own lives. Maithri's primary
mission is to reduce deaths due to suicide in society. Our services are available free of
cost to any person who is undergoing emotional pain, whether suicidal or not.
India alone contributes to more than 10% of suicides in the world. More than one lakh
persons (1,27,151) in the country lost their lives by committing suicide during the year
2009. This indicates an increase of 1.7% over the previous year's figure
(1,25,017).Majority of suicides occur among men and in younger age groups.
Suicide: A Century of Research and Debate (Routledge Studies in Social and Political
Thought) Durkeim's book on suicide, first published in 1897, is widely regarded as a classic
text, and is essential reading for any student of Durkheim's thought and sociological
method. This book examines the continuing importance of Durkheim's methodology. The
wide-ranging chapters cover such issues as the use of statistics, explanation of suicide,
anomie and religion and the morality of suicide. It will be of vital interest to any
serious scholar of Durkheim's thought and to the sociologist looking for a fresh
methodological perspective. Review: One of the more important contributions of the volume
is found in its attempts to bring Le Suicide into the modern context... the discussions
are useful and informative. ...The book provides an opportunity to consider some of the
less common paths of inquiry and discussion. Contemporary Sociology
Your Child's Risk For Depression & Suicide (Parenting Pointers) Depression and suicide among children are growing social concerns. Many young people
exhibit symptoms of chronic depression. Most of these children will overcome their
problems and go on to lead happy lives. Others will attempt suicide. There is a link
between depression and suicide. Depression is the breeding ground for suicide.
Although the majority of depressed children are not suicidal, most suicidal children are
depressed. Suicide results in the death of more children than cancer or heart disease.
National statistics cite that about 10,000 boys and girls 18 years of age or younger take
their own lives every year.
Suicide?: Questions and Answers About Suicide, Suicide Prevention, and Coping with the
Suicide of Someone You Know 85 percent of us will have some up-close experience with the suicide of someone we
know. And more than 20 percent of us will have a family member die by suicide. Journalist
Eric Marcus knows this better than most people. In 1970, his father took his life at the
age of 44. In 2008, his 49-year-old sister-in-law took her life as well. In a completely
revised and updated edition of the landmark original WHY SUICIDE?, Eric Marcus offers
thoughtful answers to scores of questions about this complex, painful issue from how to
recognize the signs of someone who is suicidal to strategies for coping in the aftermath
of a loved one's death. No matter what the circumstances, those of us who are affected by
suicide are left with difficult and disturbing questions: * Why did they commit suicide? *
Was it my fault? * What should I tell people when they ask what happened? * Is someone who
attempts suicide likely to try again? * What should I do if I'm thinking of committing
suicide? Drawing from his own experience, as well as interviews with people who have been
touched by suicide, Eric Marcus cuts through the veil of silence and misunderstanding to
bring clarity, reassurance, and comfort to those who so desperately need it.
The European Suicide - A research project at the Department of
Sociology, Stockholm University. Suicide mortality is investigated in an all European
On this site you'll find information on some theoretical
studies (on the status of Durkheim's theorie of suicide and Parsons' theory of action
systems) - sociology.su.se/research/suicide.html
Are Socioeconomic Factors Valid Determinants of Suicide?
Controlling for National Cultures of Suicide with Fixed-Effects Estimation
Suicide Ideation and Acculturation among
Low Socioeconomic Status Mexican American Adolescents
Eric Neumayer, London School of Economics and Political Science
National cultures of suicide have found renewed interest in the recent literature on
variation in suicide rates. Fixed-effects estimation controls more elegantly and
comprehensively for such cultures than other approaches used in the existing literature.
This article's analysis employs a range of economic and social explanatory variables based
on economic as well as Durkheimian sociological theory in fixed-effects and random-effects
estimation of age-standardized suicide rates in a large panel of up to 68 countries during
the period 1980 to 1999. The results suggest that economic and social factors affect
cross-country differences in suicide rates in accordance with theory. Importantly, the
fixed-effects estimation results do not differ systematically from the random-effects
results. This suggests that the vast majority of the existing literature, which typically
fails to control for national cultures of suicide and suggests socioeconomic factors as
important determinants of suicide, can still be expected to come to valid results.
Katherine M. Rasmussen, University of Texas-Pan American
Charles Negy, University of Texas-Pan American
Ralph Carlson, University of Texas-Pan American
JoAnn Mitchell Burns, University of Texas-Pan American
The purpose of this study was to determine whether Mexican American adolescents' suicide
ideation could be predicted from their acculturation levels. A nonclinical sample of 242
Mexican American eighth-grade students completed the Suicidal Ideation
Questionnaire-Junior High School version, the Acculturation Rating Scale for Mexican
Americans (modified version), the Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form, and the Rosenberg
Self-Esteem Scale. A stepwise regression analysis was conducted. Although adolescents'
acculturation levels did not correlate independently with suicide ideation scores,
acculturation did significantly (and positively) predict suicide ideation when combined
with depressive symptoms and low self-esteem. Also, Mexican American female adolescents
had significantly higher suicide ideation scores and depressive symptoms as well as
significantly lower self-esteem than did their male counterparts. Cultural inhibitory
variables that possibly decrease Hispanics' suicidal behavior are discussed. -
A Primer on Rational Suicide and Other Forms of Hastened
James L. Werth, Jr., American Psychological Association AIDS Policy Congressional Fellow,
Daniel J. Holdwick, Jr., St. Lawrence University
This article provides an overview of the major mental health issues involved in the debate
over rational suicide and other forms of hastened death. In doing so, it covers the
arguments for including counseling psychologists and other mental health professionals in
discussions about hastened death; highlights the relevant empirical research associated
with the topic, with special attention given to the studies involving psychologists and
areas needing more investigation; and reviews the implications for practice and training
and provides direction for those counseling psychologists who are working with persons who
may be rational in their decisions to hasten death. -
Lois Snyder, JD; Daniel P. Sulmasy, OFM, MD, PhD, for the Ethics and Human Rights
Committee, American College of PhysiciansAmerican Society of Internal Medicine
7 August 2001 | Volume 135 Issue 3 | Pages 209-216
Medical professional codes have long prohibited physician involvement in assisting a
patient's suicide. However, despite ethical and legal prohibitions, calls for the
liberalization of this ban have grown in recent years.
The medical profession should articulate its views on the arguments for and against
changes in public policy and decide whether changes are prudent. In addressing such a
contentious issue, physicians, policymakers, and society must fully consider the needs of
patients, the vulnerability of particular patient groups, issues of trust and
professionalism, and the complexities of end-of-life health care. Physician-assisted
suicide is prominent among the issues that define our professional norms and codes of
The American College of PhysiciansAmerican Society of Internal Medicine
(ACPASIM) does not support the legalization of physician-assisted suicide. The
routine practice of physician-assisted suicide raises serious ethical and other concerns.
Legalization would undermine the patientphysician relationship and the trust
necessary to sustain it; alter the medical profession's role in society; and endanger the
value our society places on life, especially on the lives of disabled, incompetent, and
vulnerable individuals. The ACPASIM remains thoroughly committed to improving care
for patients at the end of life. - annals.org/cgi/content/abstract/135/3/209
Durkheim linked anomic suicide to
disillusionment and disappointment.
Durkheim distinguished between egoistic, anomic, altruistic,
and fatalistic suicide, broad classifications that reflect then-prevailing theories of
human behavior. Dismissing altruistic and fatalistic suicide as unimportant, he viewed
egoistic suicide as a consequence of the deterioration of social and familial bonds.
Durkheim (1858-1917) borrowed the word anomie from the french
philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau and used it in his book Suicide (1897).
Durkheim defined the term anomie as a condition where social and/or moral norms are
confused, unclear, or simply not present. Durkheim felt that this lack of norms led to
Anomie is a concept developed by Emile Durkheim to describe an
absence of clear societal norms and values. In the concept of anomie individuals lack a
sense of social regulation: people feel unguided in the choices they have to make.
Durkheim was also concerned that anomie might arise from a lack
of consensus over social regulation of the workplace.
Anomie means a condition or malaise which in individuals is
characterized by an absence or diminution of standards or values.
Anomie can occur in several different situations. For example,
the undermining of traditional values may result from cultural contact.
The concept of anomie can be helpful in partially understanding
the experience of colonized Aboriginal peoples as their traditional values are disrupted,
yet they do not identify with the new cultural values imposed upon them: they lose a sense
of authoritative normative regulation.
A Developmental Test of Mertonian Anomie Theory
Merton's theory of anomie and deviant behavior has not been tested adequately.
Oversimplified tests involving the relationship between crime and social class or between
crime and the discrepancy between aspirations and expectations ignore both structural and
social-psychological aspects of the theory, particularly the pivotal role of the mode of
adaptation as an influence on the type and frequency of illegal behavior. In the present
study, a careful review of Merton's writings on anomie theory is used to construct a more
complete and rigorous test of the theory for respondents in early, middle, and late
adolescence. - Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Vol. 32, No. 2, 136-174
On the Anomie Theories of Merton and Durkheim
Analysis, criticism and further development based on the background of empirical
Participant: Rüdiger Ortmann
Abstract: Pertaining to the frame subject "the individual, society and deviant
behaviour" the research reported in this article deals with Merton's and Durkheim's
anomie-theoretical perspective with respect to the emergence of deviant behaviour. It can
be noted, in this connection, that both Merton and his predecessor Durkheim furnish rather
unclear definitions of the basic elements of the anomie theory such as the norms, goals
and opportunities necessary to attain these goals. This also applies to significant
theoretical statements of anomie theory. There exist, above all, no clear statements
whatsoever as to why and how society influences the norms and deviant behaviour of the
individual. Merton furnishes no concrete responses in this connection - neither to the
question as to why the "pressure" arising from goals-means discrepancies should
lead to a breakdown of norms, nor regarding the implications of this hypothesis on the
character of norms and their emergence, nor to the question whether and for what reason
the fact that the responsible agents of this goals-means discrepancy are not individuals,
but rather the particular culture and society is of relevance. Durkheim, on the other
hand, leaves open the question as to how and why norms and rules are embedded in a system
of personal goals and opportunities to attain these goals, so that the existing norms and
rules become invalid and need to be replaced by new ones, in the event of sudden and
abrupt changes in personal opportunities which have taken place in the wake of economic
crises or booms.
Against this background, empirical tests of anomie theory prove to be less significant
and, in view of the theories' considerable vagueness, hardly feasible convincingly. The
current controversies on a suitable test of Merton's anomie theory hence come as no
surprise. Works aiming at theoretical clarification have priority in this context.
Accordingly, efforts concentrate on finding answers to the described issues and problems
and on developing a theoretical frame of reference committed to the ideas of Merton's and
Durkheim's anomie theories on the basis of theoretical and empirical analysis, according
to which there exists a relationship between the individual and society which induces the
individual to judge society's behaviour towards him according to the criteria equality,
(social) justice and balance and to strive for a new balance in case the former
equilibrium is disturbed. The biblical notion "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a
tooth" thus no longer reflects the wish for revenge and retaliation, but rather the
attempt to restore balance by adjusting one's own behaviour with the goal of achieving
equality and justice. In the context of these arguments society's attitude towards the
individual - behind standard and quality - boomerangs back on society, and it is, with
respect to the emergence of deviant behaviour, by no means the same thing whether society
is responsible for the restricted living conditions of its members or not. Additionally,
norms and rules - subject to the logic of functional relationships and thus dependent on
other elements - prove to be embedded in a frame of argumentation and linked with other
basic elements - in particular with the element of opportunities - to such an extent that
the breakdown of norms hypothesized - but not explained - by Merton becomes
understandable. For this incorporation of norms in a system of criteria represents both a
relativization and integration of norms and rules, as a consequence of which, in the event
of serious changes in e.g., economic conditions, the environment and surrounding field of
norms change to such an extent that they are no longer "embedded" as before. For
this reason norms and rules need to be freshly relativized and embedded (anew) in
accordance with Durkheim's theory until the state of "anomie" is eliminated by
way of adaptation to the new living conditions - or, in other words, by way of successful
Originally, the study aimed to test Merton's anomie theory (on a sample of juvenile
prisoners). According to Merton's theory of anomie, the "culture" grants all
members of a society the same success goals, and at the same time society differentiates
the chances of access to legitimate opportunities according to location within the social
structure (social class). Group-specific pressures result which lead to group-specific
Analysis of Merton's theory, however, reveals that the task of testing it can hardly be
accomplished, as its statements and the definitions of its basic elements - goals, norms,
opportunities - are not so clear as to enable us to clearly decide upon the most suitable
test method. Against this background the persistent controversies on the appropriate test
method and on how to rate the degree of its empirical soundness are quite understandable.
In essence, they are the consequence of unsettled points concerning the theory and
constitute a problem which is unable to be solved within the theoretical frame as defined
by Merton. We can therefore, either give up Merton's anomie theory altogether and with it
also further tests of its soundness, as well as the accompanying discussions about what
Merton actually said, or meant by what he said about the anomie theory or adhere to the
creative framework of the anomie theory and try to work out more precise theoretical
definitions of its fundamental standards and to better understand their contribution to
the emergence of deviant behaviour.
Poverty, Socioeconomic Change, Institutional Anomie, and Homicide*
Sang-Weon Kim, Dong-Eui University, South Korea
William Alex Pridemore, Indiana University
Abstract: Objective. This study examined institutional anomie theory in the context of
transitional Russia. Methods. We employed an index of negative socioeconomic change and
measures of family, education, and polity to test the hypothesis that institutional
strength conditions the effects of poverty and socioeconomic change on homicide rates.
Results. As expected, the results of models estimated using negative binomial regression
show direct positive effects of poverty and socioeconomic change and direct negative
effects of family strength and polity on regional homicide rates. There was no support,
however, for the hypothesis that stronger social institutions reduce the effects of
poverty and socioeconomic change on violence. Conclusions. We interpret these results in
the Russia-specific setting, concluding that Russia is a rich laboratory for examining the
effects of social change on crime and that empirical research in other nations is
important when assessing the generalizability of theories developed to explain crime and
violence in the United States. - pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1534075
CONTINUITIES IN THE THEORY OF ANOMIE-AND-OPPORTUNITY-STRUCTURES
Sanjay Marwah, George Mason University
and Mathieu Deflem
Abstract: Although the influence of Robert Mertons contributions in criminological
sociology is widely acknowledged, there still remain misunderstandings about his
theoretical project. In light of some of these ongoing ambiguities, this paper discusses
recent criticisms of the Mertonian theory of deviant behavior and argues that a visionary
sociological paradigm of anomie-and-opportunity-structures underlies Mertons
contribution. The status of this paradigm, however, has often been misconstrued and has
impaired the elaboration of a genuinely Mertonian theory of deviant behavior. We therefore
clarify the various theoretically relevant elements of the Mertonian paradigm and offer
suggestions as to its operationalization for crime and deviance research. We argue that
future research should identify, examine, and test differentiated aspects of the
anomie-and-opportunity-structures paradigm in order to arrive at a more consistent and
substantiated conclusion on the validity of Mertons project. We conclude that
properly conceptualized and operationalized, the paradigm still holds great promise for
sociological theory and research on deviant behavior. -
ANOMIE AND STRAIN: CONTEXT AND CONSEQUENCES OF MERTONS TWO THEORIES
Richard Featherstone, firstname.lastname@example.org, University of Northern Iowa
Mathieu Deflem, email@example.com, mathieudeflem.net
Abstract: Robert Merton presented two not always clearly differentiated theories in his
seminal explorations on the social-structure-and-anomie paradigm: a strain theory and an
anomie theory. A one-sided focus on Mertons strain theory in the secondary
literature has unnecessarily restricted the power and effectiveness of Mertons
anomie theory. For although structural strain is one way to explain why deviance occurs in
the context of anomie, it is not the only way. We contend that scholars who are critical
of strain theory should not automatically discard Mertons anomie theory, because the
perspective of anomie is compatible with several other theories of crime and delinquency.
Offering examples of previous integration efforts, we maintain that Mertons
theoretical model can benefit from the input of other theories of crime and deviance as
much as these other theoretical perspectives can fine-tune their models and explanations.
GOVERNMENT REGULATION, SOCIAL ANOMIE AND PROTESTANT GROWTH IN LATIN AMERICA
A CROSS-NATIONAL ANALYSIS
The rapid growth of evangelical Protestantism in Latin America has received a substantial
amount of scholarly attention in recent years. The most common explanation for this
phenomenon has been a variant of `social anomie' theory that focuses on changes in social
demand for religion. Individuals experiencing socio-economic crisis become displaced from
their communities and lose their cultural identities. These individuals are then more
susceptible to the appeals of new religious movements. An alternative, supply-side
hypothesis is advanced. I argue that the degree of government regulation of religious
economies can best account for cross-national variations in Protestant growth. Less
restrictive laws regulating religious organizations lower the cost of consuming religion,
thus leading to an increase in religious diversity and participation. Comparative
statistical analysis of 20 Latin American countries supports the latter hypothesis. This
analysis suggests that secularization is a function of government policy. -
Advancing Institutional Anomie Theory
A Microlevel Examination Connecting Culture, Institutions, and Deviance
Lisa R. Mufti, North Dakota State University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Institutional anomie theory (IAT) contends that crime can be explained by an examination
of American society, particularly the exaggerated emphasis on economic success inherent in
American culture, which has created a "cheating orientation" that permeates
structural institutions, including academia. Consistent with its macrosocial perspective,
previous tests of IAT have examined IAT variables at the structural level only. The
current study tests the robustness of IAT by operationalizing IAT variables at the
individual level and looking at a minor form of deviance, student cheating. The author
also examines the role statistical modeling has in testing the theory at the microlevel.
Undergraduates, 122 American born and 48 international, were surveyed about their cheating
behaviors and adherence to economic goal orientations. Results related to the hypothesis
that American students, relative to foreign-born students, will have an increased
adherence to economic goal orientations that increase cheating behaviors are presented, as
are suggestions for future studies. - ijo.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/50/6/630
Institutional anomie and societal variations in crime: a critical appraisal, Author:
Abstract: Messner and Rosenfeld have proposed an institutional anomie theory of crime,
incorporating the proposition that societal investments in programs to buffer citizens
from capricious market forces (decommodification) are inversely related to rates of lethal
violence among societies. They support this argument through an analysis of variations in
homicide rates among nations. However, the research relevant to their theory is quite
limited with numerous claims and arguments yet to be examined. This paper outlines several
limitations of the theory and brings data from the World Values Surveys and other sources
to bear on their characterization of American culture in comparison to other nations,
their arguments about the impact of economic dominance on other institutions, and
alternative explanations of the link between decommodification and homicide. Finally, the
relevance of the theory to serious property crime is considered and shown to generate
serious problems for institutional anomie theory when evaluated as a general theory of
crime. - ingentaconnect.com
An Empirical Examination of the Anomie Theory of Drug Use.
Authors: Dull, R. Thomas
Abstract: Investigated the relationship between anomie theory, as measured by Srole's
Anomie Scale, and self-admitted drug use in an adult population (N=1,449). Bivariate
cross-comparison correlations indicated anomie was significantly correlated with several
drug variables, but these associations were extremely weak and of little explanatory
value. - eric.ed.gov
ASSESSING MESSNER AND ROSENFELD'S INSTITUTIONAL ANOMIE THEORY: A PARTIAL TEST
MITCHELL B. CHAMLIN
JOHN K. COCHRAN
In Crime and the American Dream, Messner and Rosenfeld contend that culturally and
structurally produced pressures to secure monetary rewards, coupled with weak controls
from noneconomic social institutions, promote high levels of instrumental crime.
Empirically, they suggest that the effects of economic conditions on profit-related crime
depend on the strength of noneconomic institutions. This investigation evaluates this
proposition with cross-sectional data for U.S. states. In brief; the nonlinear models show
considerable, indirect support for Messner and Rosenfeld's institutional anomie theory,
revealing that the effects of poverty on property crime depend on levels of structural
indicators of the capacity of noneconomic institutions to ameliorate the criminogenic
impact of economic deprivation. The implications of these findings are discussed. -
BEHAVIOR GENETICS AND ANOMIE/STRAIN THEORY
Criminology is in need of conceptual revival, and behavior genetics can provide the
concepts and research design to accomplish this. Behavior genetics is a
biologically-friendly environmental discipline that often tells us more about
environmental effects on individual traits than about genetic effects. Anomie/strain
theory is used to illustrate the usefulness of behavior genetics to criminological
theories. Behavior genetics examines the individual differences that sort people into
different modes of adaptation and that lead them to cope constructively or destructively
with strain. Behavior genetics and other biosocial perspectives have the potential to help
illuminate Agnew's (1997) extension of General Strain Theory (GST) into the developmental
realm. - blackwell-synergy.com
Anomia is a social psychological condition, rather than a
societal condition which anomie refers to, characterized by a breakdown in
values and a feeling of isolation. This term has proved much easier to measure than has
Durkheim's concept of anomie.
In the philosophy of law and political science, anomia is the
state of the absence of law, the negation of law in the sense of lex. Anomia in the sense
of the lack of a positive law promulgated by the authority of the state (lex) occurs in
conceptions that accept the existence of a pre-social and pre-political state of nature as
a historical fact or as a mere hypothesis.
From Anomie to Anomia and Anomic Depression:
A Sociological Critique on the Use of Anomie in Psychiatric Research
Mathieu Deflem, email@example.com - www.mathieudeflem.net
Abstract: The author of this paper demonstrates that the sociological concept of anomie
has undergone important transformations when applied in psychiatric research. It is argued
that these transformations are not fully in concordance with the original theories of
anomie as they were set forth by Durkheim and Merton. Two approaches in social and
cross-cultural psychiatry are examined in this context. First, the concept of anomia as
introduced and applied in the research of Leo Srole is discussed. Second, attention is
paid to the concept of anomic depression as it was introduced by Wolfgang Jilek in his
research among the Coast Salish Indians. - cas.sc.edu/socy/faculty/deflem/zanomie.htm
Durkheim distinguished between egoistic, anomic, altruistic,
and fatalistic suicide, broad classifications that reflect then-prevailing theories of
human behavior. Dismissing altruistic and fatalistic suicide as unimportant, he viewed
egoistic suicide as a consequence of the deterioration of social and familial bonds.
The term 'altruism' was used by Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) to
describe a suicide committed for the benefit of others or for the community: this would
include self-sacrifice for military objectives in wartime.
Altruism is social behaviour and value orientation in which
individuals give primary consideration to the interests and welfare of other individuals,
members of groups or the community as a whole. In altruistic regard for others is the
principle of action.
Sociobiologists argue that altruistic behaviour has its roots
in self-interest, the unconscious desire to protect one's genetic heritage.
Critics of sociobiology respond that altruism is evident
between individuals and in social situations where people are completely unrelated
genetically and claim that human conduct and motivations cannot be explained without
reference to the values and norms of culture.
For example the condition of slavery may make an individual
feel that the only way to find escape is suicide. It would be fatalistic suicide because
the individual considers himself condemned by fate or doomed to be a slave. A fatalistic
situation calling for a fatalistic suicide as a solution or escape.
The category of fatalistic suicide was constructed mainly for
purposes of symmetry (as contrasted with egoistic suicide) and because it would undercut
his central claims about the role of modern urban life as increasing the incidence of
suicide, Durkheim could never seriously examine the possibility that social integration
could result in suicide.
Fatalistic suicide served as a descriptor for suicides in
traditional societies, because Durkheim was faced with the issue that even in societies
with abundant social capital, individuals nevertheless killed themselves.