While we all may say we are just going to give up from time to time, there are some people that actually do it. And unfortunately, it can come with some adverse affects.
A study led by Dr. John Leach from the University of Portsmouth is the first of its kind. It went over something known as psychogenic death which is said to be something that occurs when a person gives up on life. It usually occurs when a person goes through some kind of trauma that they think is inescapable. They are forced to think that dying is their only escape and to them, it is the only rational outcome.
“Psychogenic death is real. It isn’t suicide, it isn’t linked to depression, but the act of giving up on life and dying usually within days is a very real condition often linked to severe trauma.”
“Severe trauma might trigger some people’s anterior cingulate circuit to malfunction. Motivation is essential for coping with life and if that fails, apathy is almost inevitable.”
“Reversing the give-up-itis slide towards death tends to come when a survivor finds or recovers a sense of choice, of having some control, and tends to be accompanied by that person licking their wounds and taking a renewed interest in life.”
While this might sound a bit insane it is quite possible. You’d be surprised what we can think ourselves into. We as human beings are much weaker than we tend to realize. When a person gives up and loses their ‘faith’ in moving forward the body acts accordingly.
1. Social withdrawal – usually after a psychological trauma. People in this stage can show a marked withdrawal, lack of emotion, listlessness, and indifference and become self-absorbed.
Prisoners of war have often been described in this initial state, having withdrawn from life, of vegetating or becoming passive.
Dr. Leach said withdrawal can be a way of coping, to pull back from any outward emotional engagement to allow an internal re-alignment of emotional stability, for example, but if left unchecked it can progress to apathy and extreme withdrawal.
2. Apathy – an emotional or symbolic ‘death’, profound apathy has been seen in prisoners of war and in survivors of shipwreck and aircraft crashes. It’s a demoralizing melancholy different to anger, sadness or frustration. It has also been described as someone no longer striving for self-preservation. People in this stage are often disheveled, their instinct for cleanliness gone.
Dr. Leach said one prisoner of war who was also a medical officer described being in this stage as waking each morning but being unable to summon the energy to do anything. Others describe it as a severe melancholy, where even the smallest task feels like the mightiest effort.
3. Aboulia – a severe lack of motivation coupled with a dampened emotional response, a lack of initiative and an inability to make decisions.
People at this stage are unlikely to speak, frequently give up washing or eating and withdraw further and deeper into themselves.
At this stage, a person has lost intrinsic motivation – the ability or desire to start acting to help themselves – but they can still be motivated by others, through persuasive nurturing, reasoning, antagonism and even physical assault. Once external motivators are removed, the person reverts to inertia.
Dr. Leach said: “An interesting thing about aboulia is there appears to be an empty mind or a consciousness devoid of content. People at this stage who have recovered describe it as having a mind like mush, or of having no thought whatsoever. In aboulia, the mind is on stand-by and a person has lost the drive for goal-directed behavior.”
4. Psychic akinesia – a further drop in motivation. The person is conscious but in a state of profound apathy and unaware of or insensitive to even extreme pain, not even flinching if they are hit, and they are often incontinent and continue to lie in their own waste.
A lack of pain response is described in a case study in which a young woman, later diagnosed with psychic akinesia, suffered second-degree burns while visiting the beach because she hadn’t removed herself from the sun’s heat.
5. Psychogenic death – Dr. Leach describes this final stage as the disintegration of a person.
What do you think about all of this? I guess giving up means we have more to lose than we think.
Image via Medium