In my recent article submitted for review I discuss how suicide and homicide are quite similar psychological phenomena. There is a thin line distinguishing the two. This is a quotation from that article:
“Furthermore in the Transactional Analysis literature, Shustov, Merinov and Tuchina (2016) provide interesting insight into other ways by which homicide and suicide can intertwine. They discuss episcript transmission amongst family members in alcoholic families. One member can avoid their own suicidality by passing on the self destructiveness to another family member by what is known as the hot-potatoe game. This in one way could be seen as a homicidal act. The person who is suicidal can avoid their suicidality by passing it onto another family member so they then become suicidal. This could be seen as a homicidal act. One party is handing on a ‘gun’ to the other whilst saying, “You shoot yourself so I don’t have to”.” (end quote).
A few days ago I was looking through some of my early transactional analysis literature and I came across a statement by Fanita English who as we know was one of the main theoreticians behind the concept of the game of Hot Potatoe. She writes:
“In regards to homicidal cases, the same pattern prevails. The principle difference between homicidal and suicidal cases is that the homicidal patient is trying to pass on his Hot Potatoe of death and is trying to turn that into homicide. This patient is saying internally, “I’ll kill you rather than die” or else “If I’m going to die, then I’ll take you with me” and “you” may be a specific number of people in his script-cast.” (end quote).
It is always kind of nice when this happens. I thought I was presenting a new look at this only to find that it was already stated many years before in some little known part of the literature.
Hence we have the idea that the game of hot potatoe is a homicidal act.
This also throws light on others involved with those who have drug and alcohol problems. Often one hears about the codependent or the rescuer of the alcoholic and how they can be a “facilitator” of the drug use. Facilitator is an interesting term. Why would one facilitate self destructive behaviour in others. At least some of the time it could be because of the Hot Potato phenomena.
In dealing with significant others in drug and alcohol counselling, some are going to be rescuers and codependants. In such cases one would need to at least investigate for the Hot Potatoe and maybe deal with the suicidality and its conversion to homicidality of the codependent.
Indeed if a rescuer is doing this then they really cannot be seen as a rescuer and would need to be more correctly diagnosed as a persecutor.