X-Message-Number: 13003
From: "Scott Badger" <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: It is a DAFy world
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 10:49:45 -0600

Hi everyone,

Keith Rene Dugue <> has developed an interesting
perspective on the questionable logic associated with choosing death even in
the face of terrible suffering.  After giving it some thought, however, I
too find it difficult to subscribe to the DAF hypothesis.

I'm not saying that people do not engage in this fallacy.  I would suggest
though that it is not the central issue.  I would say that the primary
fallacy that people use in these situations has to do with the extrapolative
cognitions Mr. Dugue referred to.  IOW, I don't think it's so much that
people choose death because they believe  that death will be some sweet
release from their suffering.  I think that frequently, the situation is
such that people with suicidal ideations are experiencing helplessness and
hopelessness as a result of engaging in irrational interpretations and
extrapolations.  I can conceive how one might use a false premise to arrive
at oblivion as a logically sound decision, and that false premise is
typically a cognitive distortion of one type or another.  IOW, the greater
and more relevant fallacy has more to do with the assessment of a life
continued rather than one's assessment or understanding of death.

At this point I should point out what appears to be a minor conflict in your
statements (if I understand them correctly).  You stated:

"As a sidelight , we extrapolate our states of mind into the future during
our entire existences even when we run out something to extrapolate to. This
extrapolation is an evolved survival mechanism and does not shut off."

You later state:

"Once we become aware of our impending inescapable undesirable future, we
might avoid thinking about it."

My sense is that your first assertion is closer to the truth.  Significantly
high levels of  anxiety more generally provoke obsessional thinking as
opposed to avoidant thinking.

BTW, I have long subscribed to the notion that it is our ability to recall
the past in relatively great detail and our ability to extrapolate into the
future with relatively great accuracy that is at the same time the source of
our greatness and the source of our madness.  Consider the amount of time
spent thinking about the past or the future as compared to the amount of
time spent thinking about the now.  Indeed, some have speculated that it is
this ability to move forward and backward in mental time that generates our
sense of continuity and identity.  I suspect a lot of our psychopathology is
strongly associated with an inordinate amount of out-of-the-moment thinking.
I am less clear on the direction of the causal arrow, although I suspect the
arrow points in both directions.

At any rate, pragmatically speaking, I sense that it will be more helpful to
assist people with suicidal ideations to focus on their irrational
interpretations and extrapolations rather than attempt to explain and refute
the DAF hypothesis.

Even so, the DAF hypothesis may have something to contribute to better
understanding the larger picture.

Warm holiday greetings to all,

Scott Badger

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