The Call of the Void

IMPORTANT MESSAGE: This post is not meant to encourage suicide, nor is it meant to discuss it. This has nothing to do with suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know is experiencing real suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. You are not alone.

At some point in our lives, we have all experienced a moment in which our brains begin to think of doing the unthinkable; something that we would never think of doing. For instance; imagine yourself standing atop a very tall building. You glance over the edge to see the traffic and life thousands of feet below you. All of a sudden, you hear a voice in the back of your head; “Do it. Jump.” You know that you’d never do it, but here you are thinking about it. What is up with that?

Don’t worry, you’re not crazy. In fact, it’s pretty common for the brain to think of such things. As it turns out, there is actually a term for it; known as, in French, l’appel du vide, or more commonly known as “the call of the void”, is the term used to describe the sudden impulse to do something drastic.

While there is not an exact reason as to why this thought process occurs within the brain, one theory suggests that the brain immediately thinks of impulsive thoughts, such as jumping off the edge of a building, is because the scenario is the strongest choice in which one can make in a certain situation.

What do you think?


~I would also recommend Daniel Howell’s YouTube video below!~

~Daniel Howell, “EVIL THOUGHTS,” YouTube video, 4:45, posted by Daniel Howell, December 9, 2013, accessed on September 13, 2021,

1960’s & the psychedelic debate

For my project I will be focusing on the therapeutic use of psychedelics as discovered during the 1960s and the revival (and continued stigma) of the practice in modern medicine.  This primary source is an episode from April 1967 of the talk show Firing Line hosted by William F. Buckley Jr.  Buckley is interviewing the eccentric psychologist Timothy Leary about his own philosophy and practice of using LSD.  The interview is significant for the debate over the legality of Leary’s advocation, as a licensed professional, for the illegal drug and its potential danger.  Leary’s counterargument is that while LSD should provide a warning label, there should not be a law prohibiting its use due to its ability to open one’s mind and potentially open a door to a happier perspective.  The argument is further complicated by Leary’s imposition of spirituality on the mental state of tripping which Buckley argues is further evident of the danger of LSD.  Buckley believed that the heightened state of consciousness could cause a “not-well-adjusted person” to develop a reliance of escapism or addiction to the drug.  Leary makes a number of declarations to the future of LSD use which will be interesting to explore during this project.    

Race, Mental Illness, and the Civil War Era

This week’s discussion topic deals with race and Civil War era mental health issues. My topic is suicide in the 19th century and one of my sources is this text that I purchased from Amazon. It is well written without a bunch of technical jargon and covers many different topics faced by Civil War era Southerners, both during the war and in the aftermath. Dr. Sommerville addresses suicides from all social classes and Chapters 3 and 4 deal exclusively with “African American Southerners in Slavery and Freedom” (pages 85-147). There is a great deal of information, with individual case studies, but the one fact that stood out was that: “The enslaved who tasted freedom appear to have been most susceptible to thoughts of suicide.” (pg. 105)

Diane Miller Sommerville. 2018. Aberration of Mind Suicide and Suffering in the Civil War- Era South. Chapel Hill The University Of North Carolina Press.

Week#3: Therapeutic Architecture

I have chosen the architecture of mental institutions as my digital project topic. After doing the reading for Tomes, the Kirkbride Plan piqued my interest. I found this article about Danville State Hospital in Pennsylvania which was modeled after the Kirkbride Plan for building “Asylums”. I choose this institution specifically because it is still operating today with a majority of the original architecture.

PTSD From Recent U.S. Evacuation of Afghanistan

Fall of Afghanistan can trigger PTSD in veterans (

This article relates to a giant mental health crisis amongst our service men and women. Recently, the United States evacuated Afghanistan, resulting in the end of a 20 year occupation. Many Afghan and American people witnessed many traumatic events. These traumatic events shed light on the mental health ramifications of war. The article does a good job explaining that there is a stigma towards mental health amongst the military community and how those who experience PTSD should try and seek out help. This article sheds light on the fact that there is still a reluctance to seek out treatment because of the way society views mental health issues like PTSD.

Opiate Addiction in 19th Century America

Interesting article that states that opium use in American goes back to the Revolutionary War. The Civil War “helped set off America’s opiate pandemic,” with the Union army dispensing 10 million opium pills and 2.8 million ounces of opium powders, although it is unknown how many soldiers became addicted. The invention of the hypodermic needle in 1856, which became in widespread use in the 1870s, increased the use of the opium derivative morphine. Medical journals in the 1870s and 1880s urged doctors to use caution when administering the highly addictive morphine, but it wasn’t until about 1895 that the morphine addiction epidemic began to abate due to improved medicines and increased public awareness of the seriousness of addiction through public health awareness campaigns.

the Autism community concerns with the Spectrum 10k study

This article discusses how the autism community is concerned about this new study that is trying to be conducted. The main concerns boil down to the study taking DNA samples from participates and what those samples will be used for. Another concern is that some of the people behind the study are controversial figures in the community due to their views on autism.

Brief Overview of How Homosexuality was “Treated” by Asylum Doctors and Attendants

For my project I chose to cover the history of male homosexuality when it was both viewed and defined as a mental illness in the United States. Above is a link to a brief article that discusses the history of shock therapy among other “treatment” methods for “Sexual deviancy” or more accurately homosexuality. The article discusses how up until 1973 homosexuality was viewed as a mental illness by the APA. Within the article you will also find a variety of images relating to how homosexuality was viewed as a mental illness by the general public at that time.

PTSD and School Shootings

The topic that I chose for my project is PTSD in survivors of school shootings. I’ve decided to focus on three shootings in the US: The University of Texas Tower shooting, Columbine, and Parkland. I find this topic interesting since this topic is fairly recent in US history. For my blog post this week, I wanted to share a video based on my topic. Below I have posted a ted talk from Avery Stark who’s sisters were attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the day of the shooting. She discusses the growing number of students developing PTSD and that the country should offer more in terms of help.

Dix & Foucault

Through all of the research I have done as a student here, it has always been focused on women, and I didn’t want this class to be any exception. I had heard her name in passing before, but this past week I did a deep dive into who Dorthea “Dragon” Dix was and what she […]