Suicide and the Protective Personality

Suicide Full-Day / Suicide Prevention

Suicide and the Protective Personality

When we are born, we inherit a set of collective beliefs, and a set of arrangements. As we continue through the process of socialization [1] and programming, we take on beliefs, ways of doing things, and of perceiving things, while rarely questioning any of them. Instead, we use them to assign meaning to things,[2] to take positions on things, to determine our values, and we even fight and kill for them. We have adopted and have become so committed to these beliefs, that we are unable to disentangle, dis-attach, or take a step back from them.

This has been costing us. This collective way of living has and continues to lead to an increase in depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and crime. This collective way of living has and continues to lead to an increase in wars, pandemics from viruses that we manufactured in laboratories, and diseases we created from our thoughtless and inconsiderate products for consumption.

Part of the reason for all this is that not only do we rarely question our beliefs, we also take them for granted and fail to ask where they come from. Yet, deep inside each one of us, there is this feeling that something just isn’t right. Deep inside, we have this subtle feeling that something is definitely missing. Nonetheless, given the collective majority belief, we opt to quiet down that subtle internal feeling, for fear of coming across as different from everyone else. What a shame that we are unaware that everyone is having the same experience, that subtle internal feeling emerging from time to time, barely heard, much less paid attention to, given how much societal noise we are distracted by.

In the beginning of this inner and subtle feeling, we start to develop inner conflict. Given our brain abhorring conflicts, it has to intervene and does that through our protective personality. As time passes, our protective personality grows bigger and bigger, until all we are is just that a protective personality [3] – not our true authentic self, but rather, a protective personality, a façade, all smoke and mirrors.

This means that regardless of what we think we are, where we think we are going, what we think we are giving, or what we think we have, we are all doing it through the lens of our protective personality – nothing else. This also means, we may be looking for happiness without ever knowing authentic happiness; we may be doing whatever it takes to achieve success but will never know authentic success; and this means we may be doing whatever it takes to be independent but will never know freedom.

As such, no matter what we do, what matters most remains elusive. Love, peace, harmony, and real safety. Interdependence, authentic courage, authentic power, and fulfillment. Contribution, authentic growth, learning, and full self-expression. These are not the vocabulary of our protective personality, and while our protective personality thinks we have all this or understand this, with one simple inquiry, we realize that we have never truly experienced any of these higher ways of living.

Yet, that little and subtle voice never quieted down. How could it? After all, it is us, our true essence, our true nature, who we really are, buried, under our programming, by our process of socialization, and replaced by a protective personality. And because it is always there, it does not and cannot go away. A sense of emptiness remains, a sense of inadequacy takes its place, a sense of never being enough, never doing enough, and never having enough, emerges, and represents the underlying cause of our suffering, to which about 1 million people a year or one person every 40 seconds [4], responds to by ending their life – hence the root of suicide occurs through the mechanism of our protective personality.

Are you a clinician who would like to learn more about our protective personality and additional skills to help your patients prevent suicide? If so, please join us on June 11th, for our 6 CEU Full Day Webinar. Click here to register, and

We’ll see you then,
Karen and Mardoche

[1] Grusec, Joan E., and Paul David Hastings, eds. Handbook of socialization: Theory and research. Guilford Publications, 2014.

[2] Devan, Jijesh, and Dany Di Tullio. “Toward a theory of socialization in open source software communities: A symbolic interactionist perspective.” AMCIS 2008 Proceedings (2008): 41.

[3] Moran, Patricia B., and John Eckenrode. “Protective personality characteristics among adolescent victims of maltreatment.” Child Abuse & Neglect 16.5 (1992): 743-754.