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I saw something about psychogenic death. I am wondering if it can be induced by a desire. I think that it can by a person being lazy and not caring about the world. It is said to happen with prisoners of war. The article says that it is not suicide but I don't know if it is true. It cannot happen all at once, it just happens because the person does not care.

There is an article here: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-09/uop-pcd092018.php

Reference to the original research is: Leach, J. (2018). ‘Give-up-itis’ revisited: Neuropathology of extremis. Medical hypotheses, 120, 14-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2018.08.009

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I am wondering if it can be induced by desire.

Psychogenic death refers to death triggered by psychic stimuli. The individual finds himself in a situation where external forces have lead to a restriction of his world and in addition, believes that this situation is unalterable.

Freud called this the death-drive. Except no person of his own volition would drive himself to death. This is obvious. The force of life is strong in every kind of being. The key here is the external 'psychic stimuli' that triggers this so called death-drive as well as the external factors that brings about this confluence of psychic factors. Thus to think of this as a 'desire' is to misunderstand the psychology of the situation as well as to misunderstand what is meant by desire. So no.

I think it can by [sic] a person being lazy and not caring about the world. It is said to happen with prisoners of war.

One situation which demonstrates this is carceral solitary confinement with little or no meaningful contact. There has been a great deal of legal argument as to whether this constitutes torture and/or cruel and unusual punishment. For this reason International law discourages its use within penal institutions, and prohibits it entirely for juveniles whereas the US actively encourages it. Anna Conley writes:

One of the most serious human rights violations is occurring today throughout the US. In US jails and prisons, individuals are held in solitary confinement for weeks, months and even years. Solitary confinement can cause significant psychological damage, including cognitive delays, increased suspicion and paranoia, increased anxiety, fear, aggression and hostility, heightened feelings of helplessness and depression, and increased thoughts and attempts at self-mutilation and suicide. Many individuals held in this severe form isolation are juveniles or individuals with serious mental illnesses, to whom it is particularly damaging.

Although solitary confinement is common in the rest of the world, nowhere is it more prevalent as a long-term prisoner management tool than the US.

US courts have found solitary confinement is a violation of the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution in certain cases, yet the practise persists.

Refs:

  • Conley, A. (2013). Torture in US jails and prisons: An analysis of solitary confinement under International Law. ICL Journal, 7(4), 415-453. https://doi.org/10.1515/icl-2013-0402 [Free PDF]
  • Stumpfe K. D. (1979). Der psychogene Tod des Herrn J. Ein Fallbeispiel [The psychogenic death of Mr. J. A case report]. Zeitschrift fur Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychoanalyse, 25(3), 263–273. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/494838/
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Leach's hypothesis is based upon case reports of prisoners of war subject to the most severe forms of incarceration and profound deprivation. A minority of prisoners reportedly completely withdrew and ceased any form of goal directed behaviour (eating, drinking etc.). Presumably, the prisoner's 'giving up' was in response to their self-evaluation that survival was impossible in the circumstances.

Leach, J. (2018). ‘Give-up-itis’ revisited: Neuropathology of extremis. Medical hypotheses, 120, 14-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2018.08.009

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It cannot happen all at once..

im not so sure this is true. according to:
[The psychogenic death of Mr. J. A case report]

psychogenic death occurs when:

The individual finds himself in a situation where external forces have lead to a restriction of his world and, in addition, is subjectively sensing of the inalterability of his situation. Decisive to the perception of the environment is the subjective emotional view of things which can greatly diverge reality.

it seems like this process should take some time to complete, with reports ranging from anywhere between three to five days, to as long as a month.

however, according to the case of mr. j:

The patient suffered from a painful herniation of intervetebral disk. After the operation of the disk he still had backache. He thought that the operation had been unsuccessful. The following day the patient showed the symptoms of the psychogenic death and died within one day.

while this isnt technically the same as “all at once”, considering durations reported in other cases, mr. j achieved resolution relatively quickly.

one might argue this wasnt exactly an authentic case, as the definition of 'psychogenic' is: “having a psychological origin or cause rather than a physical one”, and the impetus for the case of mr. j was an overwhelming despair brought on by persistent physical pain causing him to believe a prior surgery was unsuccessful.

so basically, little column a, little column b.

also, the entire process may have technically taken longer than the article made it sound, since due to the fact we dont really have any information regarding mr. j's state of mind prior to undergoing the procedure he subsequently deemed “unsuccessful”, we have no idea when he began to sense his world had become inalterably restricted.

i just felt like it was an interesting observation as far as the answers to this post are concerned.

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