Does the human psyche actually contain self-destructive impulses and even a death wish?

Hinrich I think this is a very interesting question, and one that has come up for many thinkers over the years. Freud called it Thanatos. Jung attributed self-destructive impulses to things we don’t bring into the light of consciousness - the shadow aspect of ourselves. Modern theory frames self-destructive acts (including deliberate self-harm and suicide) as expressions of psychological and emotional pain which, for the person who is suffering, may seem otherwise inescapable or inexpressible to them; this pain may be the result of psychological illness, an emotional consequence of childhood trauma, a genetic susceptibility to depression or heightened experience of pain - or some other unmitigated clinical condition. From an evolutionary perspective, extreme antisocial behavior is not conducive to group survival, and it would not be inconceivable that a person who recognizes themselves to be an antisocial outlier might become self-destructive or suicidal because all these traits naturally coincide as a result of millennia of group selection; in other words, there may be a fitness advantage for the species when an antisocial phenotype voluntarily removes itself from the group (I haven’t seen any research on this, but it’s an interesting hypothesis!). Lastly, I would not discount a spiritual dimension to these dynamics: if deprivation of sunlight can lead to life-crushing depression, whose to say that deprivation of spiritual connection (be it to ones innermost Self or Soul, to Nature, to the Divine, to the Ground of Being, to the Absolute, to the Tao, etc….) cannot lead to a longing for nonexistence?

My 2 cents.

(From Quora


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