5 stages of psychogenic death or 'give-up-itis'
You can die simply by giving up the will to live, suggests new research.
- Give-up-itis or psychogenic death is a real and terrible condition, finds new research.
- People can die in as few as three days after a major trauma causes them to give up on life.
- There are 5 stages of give-up-itis.
Can you die simply by giving up the will to live? Yes, concludes a new study, led by Dr. John Leach from the University of Portsmouth in the UK.
The first-of-its-kind study looked at the phenomenon of "give-up-itis" - a word used for what is medically known as "psychogenic death".
How is this possible? The research says "give-up-itis" can be catalyzed by a trauma that seems inescapable, with death appearing as a rational and inevitable thing to do. Without an interference, death can happen in as little as three days after the initial withdrawal from life.
What's important to note about this condition is that it's not the same as suicide.
"Psychogenic death is real," said Dr. Leach. "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."
The doctor thinks give-up-itis could be caused by a change in the anterior cingulate circuit – a frontal-subcortical circuit of the brain, which controls motivation and the person's goal-oriented behavior.
"Severe trauma might trigger some people's anterior cingulate circuit to malfunction, " explained Dr. Leach. "Motivation is essential for coping with life and if that fails, apathy is almost inevitable."
But death does not have to be inevitable even if you fall victim to "give-up-itis". Different interventions like physical activity that can give the person some sense of regaining choice and control can break the terrible cycle by releasing dopamine.
Dr. Leach identified five stages of progressing psychological decline leading to death:
1. Social withdrawal - this usually follows a psychological trauma and can be considered a way of coping, according to Dr. Leach. This very passive state is marked by withdrawal from social interaction, emotionlessness, indifference, and self-absorption. Former POWs are often in this state right after being captured.
2. Apathy - a person in this state exhibits serious melancholy and lack of energy, as if they no longer wish to preserve themselves. This goes along with not putting forth efforts towards much of anything, especially bathing.
3. Aboulia - this is when a person not only severely lacks motivation, but also has almost no emotional response to the point of no wanting to speak. The sufferer becomes extremely withdrawn into themselves and has no desire or ability to help themselves or others.
Dr. Leach described aboulia as if having "an empty mind or a consciousness devoid of content." The mind essentially goes on stand-by.
4. Psychic akinesia - this state is reached when a person is conscious but is in such profound apathy that even extreme pain like from getting hit will prompt no response. A person in psychic akinesia would not only not bathe but often just lie in their own waste, found the researchers.
5. Psychogenic death - this final stage involves the person's complete giving up and subsequent disintegration. Dr.Leach said that someone who reached this stage "might be lying in their own excreta and nothing - no warning, no beating, no pleading can make them want to live."
Prisoners in concentration camps were known to reach this last stage when they'd take out a hidden cigarette to smoke. As cigarettes were extremely valuable and could be traded for things like food, a person smoking one was regarded as having truly given up. Their death would usually follow within several days.
- What Happens to Your Body When You Donate it to Science? ›
- After death, you're aware that you've died, say scientists ›
Step inside the unlikely friendship of a former ACLU president and an ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice.
- Former president of the ACLU Nadine Strossen and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were unlikely friends. They debated each other at events all over the world, and because of that developed a deep and rewarding friendship – despite their immense differences.
- Scalia, a famous conservative, was invited to circles that were not his "home territory", such as the ACLU, to debate his views. Here, Strossen expresses her gratitude and respect for his commitment to the exchange of ideas.
- "It's really sad that people seem to think that if you disagree with somebody on some issues you can't be mutually respectful, you can't enjoy each other's company, you can't learn from each other and grow in yourself," says Strossen.
- The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.