A Clinical and Empirical discussion with Katie Lewis, PhD
Suicidal thoughts are known to fluctuate dramatically over time, presenting an ongoing challenge to clinicians and researchers alike. While supportive social relationships are known to help reduce risk over time, the short-term impact of interpersonal conflicts on suicide risk is less well understood. In this presentation, contemporary theories drawn from the realms of personality science and suicide prevention will be used as a foundation for understanding the role of implicit relational dynamics in suicide risk. The concepts of agency and communion will be explored as important dimensions that may help to predict the kinds of social situations in which suicidal thoughts will arise. Novel findings from a daily diary study of psychiatric patients enrolled in long-term psychoanalytic treatment will highlight the role of complementarity (versus discordance) in agency and communion between interaction partners as a potential signal of proximal suicide risk. The presentation will discuss treatment implications based on these findings and highlight future areas of inquiry.