Suicidal ambivalence and ego states

I saw this from the movie Forrest Gump the other day. It could be quite a good dramatic representation of the concept of suicidal ambivalence which I talk about in my book – Working with suicidal individuals.

In the book I show the suicidal ambivalence as such


As the person gets closer to carrying out a suicide attempt the AC becomes more cathected and the FC and Adult become less cathected. One could say, that at least for some suicidal people, they get themselves into a kind of AC ‘trance’.

In the book I cite the case of a man who thrust a knife into his abdomen as a suicide attempt. He reported the pain of the knife going in kind of ‘woke’ him up. In ego state terms the pain he inflicted on himself caused a switch in ego states probably to Adult first, then to Free Child and then he took action to save his life which he obviously did.gun lady

In this part of the movie we see her ambivalence as she considers jumping but hesitates. She is in a state of ambivalence – she is not jumping and yet is very close to considering it. Then at about 1.04 minutes her foot slips and this shocks her and one could say this results in a change in ego states and she changes her mind. It is an interesting and possibly quite psychologically accurate depiction of what I am trying to present with the concept of the suicidal ambivalence and ego states.

This shocking effect when a person is deeply in AC just prior to an attempt could have significant implications for suicide prevention. When one is getting close to an attempt they could have contracted prior to shock themselves in some way. Splashing the face with cold water, eating a slice or raw onion or anything that will shock the person as this could cause them to ‘wake up’ out of the AC and then a switch in ego states.

An interesting possible addition to no suicide contracting. Or even just for the psychoeducation of a suicidal person which gives them another possible strategy to avoid an attempt in a time of crisis.

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