The Acquired Capability for Lethal Self Injury: Case Studies of Plath’s The Bell Jar and Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides

Sepideh Jafari, Simin Jafari, Roghayeh Kiyani Astar


Interpersonal theory developed by Joiner (2005) is based on the assumption that people die by suicide because they can-acquired capability-and because they want to- desire of suicide.  Desire to die arises from two specific psychological states: perceived burdensomeness and thwarted belongingness.  The obtained ability of committing suicidal thoughts referred to the second segment of the approach consists of some specific factors, i.e., the person must be capable of doing some lethal activities courageously to put an end to the life; therefore, they present a fearless attitude towards death.  Another factor is endurance to face self-injuries pain acquired from the long painful experiences or probably stimulating and motivating situations.  In this paper, the researchers intended to present a Joinerian reading of Sylvia Plath’s only novel, the Bell Jar, and one of Jeffrey Eugenides’ prominent works, the Virgin Suicides.  In fact, this qualitative study would analyze the two selected novels (i.e., the Bell Jar and the Virgin Suicides) by the use of the acquired capability for suicide to find out why one takes his/her life by his/her own hands.  Based on the findings, Loneliness, social isolation, and thwarted effectiveness can be the mental states that have inflicted an acute pain on the heroines, a pain that makes them ready to die by suicides.  Suicidal ideation and witnessing other’s suicidal behaviors, habituates the heroines to the concept of death and suicide.



Acquired Capability, Habituation, Interpersonal Suicide Theory

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