Egocide and suicide

egocide and suicideLately, I’ve been thinking about egocide. (Why does my autocorrect want to change that to “geocode”??) I’m at the end of my rope and climbing back up is not an option. I’ve got to change. Drastically change. Kill off the “Ken” I think I am and reinvent “Ken.” Killing off, or sacrificing, my concept of myself amounts to killing off my ego—egocide.

David Rosen, in his book Transforming Depression, describes egocide as “a symbolic killing of the ego that is experienced as ego death: a sacrifice of the ego to the Self, a higher principle.” Rosen went through this in his own life. “It was the ego-image [he] had of [himself] as a husband that was sacrificed. When [he] released that image, [he] found [he] could surrender to a higher power within [himself]—the Self.

The other day, as I was starting this post, I found a blog post about Buckminster Fuller’s egocide. The idea was that he would throw away his ego. He would not work for himself or for material gain but solely for the greater good. He trusted that his needs would be met. Apparently, trusting the universe to provide worked out pretty well for ol’ Bucky.

Then, I was watching the last episode of Top of the Lake (streaming on Netflix) and there was the following conversation between Robin, the protagonist, and GJ, a guru-type. Robin had just gotten some very bad news.

Robin: I don’t know how to keep living.

GJ: So, you’re on your knees? Good. Now die to yourself. To your idea of yourself. Everything you think you are, you’re not. What’s left? Find out. … Stop thinking.

Robin: I need to help Tui

GJ: You people all want to help someone. Help yourself first. Like the airplane. Put on your own mask first.

Robin: How do I help myself?

GJ: Why should I tell you when you don’t listen.

Robin: I’m listening.

GJ: No! All you hear are your own crazy thoughts like a river of shit on and on. See your thoughts for what they are. Stop your helping. Stop your planning. Give up. There is no way out. Not for others. Not for you.

Egocide is about death. And that’s why it is an alternative to suicide. When in a depression, there is no future and no past. Time doesn’t move. Therefore, nothing changes. I can’t envision a time when I wont be depressed. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t depressed. All I have is this moment. This overwhelming, oppressive moment. But things must change because they are intolerable as they are. If things can’t change with time then death is the only answer. Death is the only way to make things change. Something must die. If not the body then, perhaps, the ego can be a surrogate.

The real question is: what images of myself, exactly, do I need to sacrifice? I’ve been trying to let go of “Ken the computer guy” for a while but the problem is that he’s the only one making any money. But, perhaps it’s my feeling that way which is preventing all the other Ken’s from bringing home some bacon? Maybe there’s also the aspect of letting go of negative images—the “I’ll never be a real writer/painter.”

I don’t think there has to be something there to fill the gaping hole left by the sacrificed ego. That’s too much planning. If egocide is a surrogate for suicide then there can’t be a replacement already in the wings. Perhaps some people can transition from one stage to the next easily. They know in advance what they want to do before they get to the point of needing to terminate the old “them.” But, not everyone. I’ve known for a while now that something’s gotta change but I didn’t know what/how/when.

Well, I’ll keep you posted on what’s going on and how I see the imminent transformation shaping up. So, keep reading!

23 responses to “Egocide and suicide

  1. This is really interesting! I had never heard of egocide before but it seems like a very tangible idea. Hope you keep up the posts I would be interested to see how it goes.

    The best of luck.

  2. Thank you, Leo.

  3. Interesting that I would find this just days after having a conversation in regards to egocide; though at the time I did not use the term.

    I was explaining to my lover how I was beginning to grow very tired and annoyed with the person I am today and so I wanted to change that. But doing such things can be quite tough. I have in my mind various possibilities of a “new me”, but it seems so hard to push the “old me” away and allow the others to sit in the driver seat. When he asked me what it is exactly I wanted to do, I grew quiet for a moment, then looked him straight in the eye and said: “I want to take the ‘old me’ and kill her. Get rid of her completely.” Of course my words amused him, and so he offered to help me out with this journey of mine. This act of egocide I shall be committing.

    As I said, this was only decided a few days ago, so no real progress has been made just yet, but I am hopeful for the future. I hope you are able to change the current “you” and find one much most enjoyable and suitable. I do believe egocide is possible, but I also believe it will take some work to reach our goals. Good luck to you, Ken! I hope to read of your progress.

  4. Thank you, Danika. And, good luck to you, too!

    I’m very glad to hear that your lover was not shocked or horrified or confused by your comment about ‘killing’ the old you and that he is willing to help. I’m sure it will be a true ‘journey’. For both of you, no doubt.

  5. I think you may have saved a life with this.

  6. That’s so wonderful to hear, Michael!

  7. Hi Ken,


    You got it!

    Enjoy your life as a writer/painter.

    This summer in kernels, an online haiku journal, this haiku was the editor’s choice :

    Slug trail on the porch…
    now, I understand my life

    Peace & Light,


    • Dr. Rosen,

      Thank you for stopping by! I’ve been away from the blog for a bit so am just now seeing your comment.

      Thanks for the haiku. I can relate: some days I’m the slug and some days I’m the slug trail.

  8. Hi Ken,

    You are welcome.

    Here’s a recent haiku :

    Red winter rhododendron…
    I, too, am still alive

    It’s so good to know you.

    Recently, I reread Rilke’s “Letters to a Young Poet,” which I love. Young and old : little difference.


    (aka David H. Rosen}

  9. Pingback: Egocide: an update | The Psychology of Me

  10. Hi Ken,
    How are you?
    I just wrote a play, “Jumping Into Death,” about survivors of jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge. It includes egocide, as the term resulted from one of those interviews.
    Peace & gratitude,

    • David,

      Cool! I’d love to read it. Do you have plans to produce it?


      • Hi Ken,
        Believe it or not, I am currently taking a playwriting class.
        It’s a course in writing 10 minute plays.
        I thought that I would start small.
        By that I mean short (not more than 9 pages or 10 minutes).
        The current title is “Jump for Joy,” and I’m doing it.
        My real middle name must be “persistence.”
        Hope all is well.
        Peace & gratitude,

      • Hi Ken,
        ‘Jump for joy’ ought too be ready around Xmas.
        Want to get it produced in K.C ?
        I used to live in Springfield,MO. and I married my current wife in Springfield,OR (just across the Willamette river from Eugene).

  11. Hi Ken,
    Shall we exchange plays?
    Amazing that we both are into 10 min.plays.
    Stay well and let’s aim for ‘weller than well.” OK?
    Peace & gratitude,

  12. May we both do well in the ultimate play : Life!

  13. David,

    Definitely, let’s talk about producing your play. I’ve been away from the KC playwright scene for a couple years now but I still know some people. I’d love to exchange plays and see what you’ve written. Have you seen the recording of my Melancholy Monologues on YouTube? There’s a “Theatre” link at the top of the page.

    Email me at and we can talk details and exchange scripts.

  14. Hi Ken,

    Did I send you my play?

    If not, I will.

    Any comments and suggestions will be appreciated.

    Peace & gratitude,


    • Dave,

      Yes, you did send me your play. I look forward to reading through it.

      I ran into a playwright friend, Jack, who I haven’t seen in a while and mentioned your idea of a 10-minute play festival here in KC. He really likes the idea. I am not sure how much energy I will have for launching a festival but perhaps there will be enough local interest from other playwrights. I will follow up with him and see what makes sense for us to try to do.

      Let’s talk via email about some ideas for the festival and what you see as being your role and I’ll let you know how things develop between Jack and me.


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