Leonardo Tondo: Brief History of Suicide in the Western Cultures

Hector Warnes’ comment on Barry Blackwell’s comment


        The ubiquitous "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater" originates from the German Das Kind with dem Bathwater ausschütten and is widely used because at times, unknowingly, we cannot distinguish the essential from the non-essential or the expendable from the valuable.

        Another metaphor brought up by Barry, "the wounded healer," was used by Goethe in Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship. It was also used by C.G. Jung and later by a Dutch catholic priest as the title of a book, The Wounded Healer (Nouwen 2001).

        Most psychotherapists have had the experience of being psychologically "wounded" by professional failures, misfortunes, errors and limitations in the exercise of our praxis. The idiomatic expression of the “Baby and the Bathwater” is partly related to the metaphor of the “wounded healer.”

        Barry is a humanistic outstanding psychiatrist who stood by his patient to the unfortunate and bitter end. Barry used words as if Paul was acting like "a robot" and on page 22 wrote: “the urine remaining clear of addictive drugs but there were marked Parkinsonian symptoms..." I wonder who was medicating the patient who obviously, according to Barry, was suffering from a severe depression to the point of melancholia. If he was experiencing severe Parkinson symptoms, he would have a sure deficit of dopamine which would aggravate his depressive status.

        I shall further say that suicide is, at times, the only option for a patient whose life has been "emptied out of meaning and purpose" and who feels useless, particularly in refractory psychiatric illnesses.



Nouwen HJM. The Wounded Healer. Darton, Longman and Todd. 2001.


February 13, 2020