New research suggests you can die by simply giving up your will to live

If you’ve given up your will to live, but haven’t died yet, then perhaps you’re not trying hard enough.

A new study, led by Dr. John Leach from the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, found that you can die simply by giving up your will to live.

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As Paul Ratner writes in Big Think, the study was the first of its kind to investigate “give-up-itis”… or what’s 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.

Eek barba durkle, someone’s gonna get laid in college.

But as Big Think pointed out:

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.

According to Dr. Leach, there are five stages of psychogenic 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.

Sounds very extreme.

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.

… Maybe I need to step up my shower-taking schedule.

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 The sufferer becomes extremely withdrawn into themselves and has no desire or ability to help themselves or others.

Your mind here basically goes into “standby” mode, and is “a consciousness devoid of content.” So basically, it’s like Detroit. 

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.”

I just… Wow. While this is funny to joke about, in reality it sounds truly horrific.

All kidding aside, if you or someone you care about are having mental health struggles, please call a therapist or go to the closest emergency room.

Written by Dan Broadbent

Science Enthusiast. Atheist. Lover of cats.




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