Suicidal Ideation


An individual with chronic suicidal ideation requires psychoanalysis that is based on the Adlerian theory of personality, developed by Alfred Adler. This theory emphasizes the need to recognize humans as creatures, who seek compensation for their self-perceived inferiority to others. Although, the person-centered theory and the behavioral theory of Carl Rogers and John Watson respectively aid in diagnosing the possible causes of the suicidal tendencies, they negate the influence of biological factors in causing personality disorders. The personality of an individual denotes the established, unique pattern of behavior that processes and interprets information. Imperatively, the individuals feelings and response to stimuli is influenced by personality. Suicidal ideation denotes the preoccupation of an individual with suicide. The degree of this preoccupation varies from fleeting thoughts to extensive thoughts and detailed planning. It should be noted that some of the individuals with suicidal ideation may engage in role-playing that may transform into actual suicide attempts. Normally, psychologists attribute suicidal ideation to high levels of depression. The current paper is going to examine the major theories of personalities postulated by several theorists that are recognized in the field of psychology. The theorists include Alfred Adler, Carl Rogers, and John Watson. The current essay argues that Alfred Adlers theory is best suited for describing and treating the atypical behavior related to suicidal ideation. This assertion recognizes the theorys emphasis on the unity of the individual, goal orientation, self-determination, and social context.


Personality Theories

Alfred Adlers theory

According to Alfred Adler, an individual will often be cooperative and connected to others as long as he/she feels encouraged, capable, and appreciated. However, the same individual will exhibit unhealthily competitive behaviors, withdrawal, or giving up if he/she feels discouraged. In other words, the theory, developed by Adler, focuses on the need of the indivividual to find ways of expressing and embracing respect and social interests that would enable one to attain fulfillment and optimism. The Adlerian theory has seven major assumptions that guide psychologists in their practice and application of the theory. First, the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the person are only understood if they are perceived as subordinates of the individuals style. Secondly, the goal orientation of the person always strives for the attainment of superiority, significance, or success. Third, an individuals fictional goal may be subject to hereditary or cultural influences. However, the fictional goal is unique to the creative power of the person, who may not be fully aware of his/her goals. For this reason, the psychologist must analyze the individuals birth order, normative coping patterns, and memories to decipher the underlying goals of the person. Fourth, individuals exist in a social context that has three important factors: love and sex, occupation, and relations with other people. As a result, the way one responds to these factors of the social system partly determines the personality of the individual. Fifth, every person yearns to live in harmony with other people in the society, due to the fact that it brings a sense of belonging to the individual. Sixth, a person is mentally affected depending on the persons capacity to develop oneself and contribute to the welfare of the society. Individuals, who are dissatisfied with their abilities, will develop either inferiority complex or superiority complex. Lastly, the theory proposes a treatment solution for disturbed individuals, which encourages them to overcome their feeling of insecurity by challenging them to rectify mistaken notions, attitudes, attitudes, and feelings about their world.

John Watsons Behaviorism Theory

According to John Watson, a series of events often precede and succeed the behavior of a person (Eiilm University). As a result, Watson postulates the possibility of observing, establishing, and explaining the relationship between stimuli (antecedent conditions), responses (behavior), and consequences. In this case, the consequences can be a reward, punishment, or neutral effect. The theory by John Watson built the theory of Pavlovs animal conditioning to develop seven elements. First, mentalist concepts are discarded. Secondly, learning is a continuous process. Third, emotions are a form of classical conditioning. Fourth, there are no individual differences. Fifth, complex behaviors are the results of the combinations of reflexes that are identifiable. Sixth, all humans develop different behaviors due to learning from others. Lastly, repetition strengthened learning.

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The Person-Centered Theory by Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers borrowed the humanistic ideas from Sigmund Freud to postulate the personality idea of self-concept. According to Rogers, self-concept is the major determinant of the personality of the individual. The self-concept includes all the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that people have about themselves. However, the self-concepts of a person might not match the reality surrounding the person leading to the occurrence of incongruence. The absence of incongruence is congruence, which is the agreement of the self-concept with reality. Carl Rogers gives an example in which parents promote the presence of incongruence in the personalities of their children. For example, parents that allow their child to behave in a particular manner will condition the child to block out certain experiences. However, parents who openly accept their child, irrespective of the childs behavior, encourage the development of congruence.

How the three theorists might explain suicidal ideation

According to Alfred Adler, the individual with chronic suicidal ideation is undergoing some experiences that are making one feel insecure or unwanted in the society. For example, the individual might be experiencing difficulties in achieving his/her goals, and his/her attempt to seek help has not been noticed by other people in the society. For this reason, the individual develops a feeling of inferiority, and begins to consider suicide as the best solution for being ignored by the society. Consequently, Alfred Adler would design a treatment plan that would involve many face-to-face discussions with the individual to discover the insecurities that are plaguing him/her. In order to remedy the inferiority complex, the treatment plan will obligate the patient to affirm that one is unique, irrespective of the perceptions of the society. The patient will be encouraged to love himself/herself and to recognize that it is his/her own responsibility to make himself/herself at peace with the society.

According to John Watson, the individual with suicidal ideation might be in a difficult condition. However, the individual considers suicide as the ideal solution to his/her problem, because the individual has learned from the society that it is a recommendable solution when faced with such a difficulty. As a result, the treatment plan by John Watson would have to revisit the early history of the individual to investigate one's childhood experiences. These experiences may have led to the development and acceptance of suicidal ideation. After that, the treatment plan will subject the individual to repeat experiments that will demonstrate how other people use other means of coping with stress as an alternative to suicide.

According to Carl Rogers, the individual with suicidal ideation has been conditioned to behave in a certain way since childhood. In fact, loved ones have always accepted him/her, because he/she always complied with a particular code of behaviors that had been prescribed. However, the individual is having suicidal ideation because the behaviors, normally approved and accepted by the people around him/her, are no longer valid. Consequently, the individual perceives suicide as the only alternative. For this reason, the treatment plan would subject the individual to conditions that are uncommon for him/her, and that do not guarantee the approval of the behavior of the individual.


Evidently, the personality theory of Alfred Adler is the most suitable for treatment of the chronic suicidal ideation. This assertion recognizes that the two theories of John Watson and Carl Rogers incorporate other parties as having contributed to the creation of suicidal ideation in the patient. However, the personality theory of Alfred Adler acknowledges that the individuals attributes play a key role in determining his propensity to engage in suicide ideation.


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