American Sociological Association

When Too Much Integration and Regulation Hurts: Reenvisioning Durkheims Altruistic Suicide

Durkheim’s model of suicide famously includes four types: anomic, egoistic, altruistic, and fatalistic suicides; however, sociology has primarily focused on anomic and egoistic suicides and neglected suicides predicated on too much integration or regulation. This article addresses this gap. We begin by elaborating Durkheim’s concepts of integration and regulation using insights from contemporary social psychology, the sociology of emotions, and cultural sociology. We then posit a more coherent theory of suicides resulting from too much integration and too much regulation. Importantly, we shift attention away from motives (altruism = self-sacrifice). We also reject the idea that high levels of integration and regulation are in and of themselves harmful. Instead, we propose three sociocultural explanations—(1) disruptions, (2) the spread of negative emotions and ideas, and (3) the pervasiveness of negative, suicide scripts—that elucidate how and why too much integration and regulation can become harmful and facilitate suicide.


Abrutyn, S., Mueller, A. S.





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