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Suicide and Self-Damaging Behavior - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780121638801, 9781483274010

Suicide and Self-Damaging Behavior

1st Edition

A Sociobiological Perspective

Author: Denys deCatanzaro
Editor: David T. Lykken
eBook ISBN: 9781483274010
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 28th January 1981
Page Count: 256
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Suicide and Self-Damaging Behavior: A Sociobiological Perspective reviews the status of suicide and other exceptions to the prevailing regularities of behavior. This book discusses the apparent anomaly of self-destructive behavior; current incidence of suicide and self-injury; self-destructiveness in other species; and biological fitness and social ecology of suicide. The pro-suicidal gene expression and natural selection; death concept; breakdown of other life-preserving factors with coping failure; and selection processes and altruism are also elaborated. This text likewise covers the chronic self-abuse, risk taking, and self-injurious or self-mutilative behavior. This publication is a good source for anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and social scientists concerned with self-destructive behavior.

Table of Contents


1. The Apparent Anomaly of Self-Destructive Behavior

Assumptions about the Nature of Adaptive Behavior

Assumptions about Innate Determination versus Learning, and the Influence of Natural Selection

The Problem of Self-Destructiveness

A Précis of the Arguments

2. The Current Incidence of Suicide and Self-Injury


Parasuicide or Attempted Suicide

Chronic Suicide and Risk Taking

Self-Injurious or Self-Mutilative Behavior


3. Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspective

The History of Suicide

Suicide in Primitive Cultures

Modern Ethnic, Racial, and Cultural Differences


4. Self-Destructiveness in Other Species

"Suicide" among Social Insects

Migration, Emigration, and Population Dispersion

Kin Selection and Parental Investment

Self-Injury in Captivity and Experimental Conditions

A Laboratory "Suicide Paradigm"

The "Suicide-Death" Phenomenon

Other Instances


5. Biological Fitness and the Social Ecology of Suicide

Proximate Motivation of Suicide

Suicide in Childhood

Suicide in Adolescence and Early Adulthood

Age and Reproductive Status in Adult Suicide

Other Trends in Adult Suicide

Summary and Interpretation

6. Cultural Evolution and Suicide

Technology and the Origin of Suicide

Transitions in Methods and Technology

Cognition and Suicide

The Death Concept

Imitation and Vicarious Learning

Summary and Conclusions

7. Stress, Pathology, and Suicide

Maladaptive States and Inheritance

Environmental Stressors, Gene Expression, and Maladaptiveness

Suicide and Psychopathology

Rate of Adaptation to Harsh and Novel Environmental Contingencies

Pathogenic Conditions, Culture, and the Social Ecology of Suicide

8. Coping Failure, Senescence, Gene Expression, and Suicide

Prosuicidal Gene Expression and Natural Selection

The Medawar-Williams Hypothesis, Senescence, and Death

Breakdown of Other Life-Preserving Factors with Coping Failure

Other Facets of Death and Senescence

Genetics and Suicide

Other Indirect Evidence of Genetic Involvement

Reconciling Gene-Expression and Cultural-Learning Involvement in Suicide

9. Altruism and Suicide

Selection Processes and Altruism

Gene Sharing among Individuals

Relative Strengths of Different Orders of Selection

Kin Selection and Human Suicide

Group Benefit and Human Suicide

Aging, Reproductive Status, and Altruism

Modern Conditions and Exceptional or Aberrant Cases


10. Suicide, Physiology, and Behavioral Predispositions

The Euphoria-Dysphoria Dimension

Brain Reinforcement or Reward Mechanisms

Stress, Hormones, and Neurochemistry

Monoamines and Suicide

Physiological Pain Mechanisms and Suicide


11. Ethics and Suicide

Ethics as Modulators of Suicide Frequency

Ethics of Suicide

12. Limitations and Qualifications

Suicide and Genetics

Exceptional Cases

Life Out of Context

Limits on the Predictive Nature of the Hypotheses

The Frequency of Suicide

Biases in Statistics on Suicide

Is Suicide a Unitary Phenomenon?

The Species Generality of the Phenomenon

Cognition, Learning, and Culture Revisited

13. Suicide: A Synthesis

The State of Modern Suicidology

Imperfections in Biological Adaptation

Coping Strategies and Life Events

Coping Failure and Suicide

Mediation of Motivational Changes Accompanying Coping Failure

14. Parasuicide and Suicide

Definitions of Parasuicide and Biases in Data

Social Ecology of Parasuicide

Followup Studies of Parasuicides

Lethality of the Suicide Attempt


15. Chronic Self-Abuse, Risk Taking, and Other Self-Damaging Behavior

Chronic Self-Abuse

Risk Taking

Other Self-Damaging Behavioral Patterns

Summary and Conclusions

16. Self-Injurious or Self-Mutilative Behavior

The Role of Learning

Physiological Malformation and Damage

Abnormalities in Environment

Learning Revisited

Relationship to Adaptation

17. Toward an Expansion of Research Paradigms

Self-Damaging Behavior: A Supersynthesis

Critical Issues for Research

Final Statement


Author Index

Subject Index


No. of pages:
© Academic Press 1981
28th January 1981
Academic Press
eBook ISBN:

About the Author

Denys deCatanzaro

About the Editor

David T. Lykken

Ratings and Reviews