Schizophrenia and the inevitability of death


The ostensibly prosaic fact of the inevitability of death is, in actuality, one of the supremely potent sources of man's anxiety, and the feeling-responses to this aspect of reality are among the most intense and complex which it is possible for us to experience. The defense-mechanisms of psychiatric illness, including the oftentimes exotic-appearing defenses found in schizophrenia, are designed to keep out of the individual's awareness—among other anxiety-provoking aspects of inner and outer reality—this simple fact of life's finitude. Various characteristics of our culture serve to maintain our obliviousness to this fact of inevitable death, and the psychodynamics of schizophrenic illness, in particular, serve as strong defenses against the recognition of it. Although the earliest roots of schizophrenia may antedate the time in the individual's life when death's inevitablity tends to confront him, it is the writer's impression that this particular deeply anxiety-provoking aspect of reality is one of the major threats which the schizophrenic process is serving to deny.

DOI: 10.1007/BF01563716

Cite this paper

@article{Searles1961SchizophreniaAT, title={Schizophrenia and the inevitability of death}, author={Harold F. Searles}, journal={Psychiatric Quarterly}, year={1961}, volume={35}, pages={631-665} }