Why losing the will to live can be deadly within three weeks可怕！失去生存意愿者，三周内就可能死亡 时间:2018-10-04 单词数:4260
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Losing the will to live is deadly, scientists believe, after finding people can die within three weeks simply because they have given up on life.
A new review by Dr John Leach at the University of Portsmouth, is the first to widely study the condition known as ‘psychogenic death’ and define its five stages.
Sometimes termed ‘give-up-itis’ it usually follows an emotional shock from which a person thinks there is no mental escape, which makes them dangerously apathetic about their own existence.
If not stopped, death usually occurs three weeks after the first stage of withdrawal, but can happen even sooner. However the syndrome is not widely accepted by scientists.
“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.”
Psychogenic death, also known as voodoo death, was first defined in 1942 by Harvard psychologist Walter Cannon, who noticed that it could often be triggered by the fear of supernatural consequences to broken taboos. Tribes people who believed they were cursed would often be found dead within a matter of days.
Cannon also termed the ‘fight or flight’ response and believed in psychogenic death that the flight response took over but the sufferer could not act on it, leading to a fatal chain of events.
By reviewing case reports from concentration camp inmates, shipwreck survivors, and even Jamestown colonists, Dr Leach, found that the first stage is social withdrawal in which sufferers exhibit lack of emotion, listlessness and indifference and become self-absorbed.
Next a deep apathy sets in where a person no longer cares about self-preservation and instead sinks into a deep demoralising melancholy.
The third phase is ‘aboulia’ in which people stop speaking and give up eating and washing which leads to stage four, psychic akinesia, where they no longer even feel extreme pain.
In one case study used in the review a young woman suffered second-degree burns while visiting the beach, because she hadn’t removed herself from the sun’s heat.
The final stage is death. In concentration camps, people who reached this stage were often known to be near death by fellow prisoners when they started smoking their valuable hidden cigarettes.
Dr Leach said: “When a prisoner took out a cigarette and lit it, their campmates knew the person had truly given up, had lost faith in their ability to carry on and would soon be dead.”
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