L’Appel Du Vide
Freud called it, “The Death Drive.”
Edgar Allen Poe called it, “The Imp of the Perverse.”
In France, it’s known as “L’Appel Du Vide,” but it’s more commonly known as “Call of the Void.”
Have you ever experienced the phenomenon in which your brain tricks you with the strong urge to leap off a balcony from a tall building, or jump from the top of a cliff? Suddenly your instincts come into play, and give you the logical understanding that such actions would extremely unhealthy.
The call of the void is not limited to jumping from heights. It refers to any reckless act that is self-destructive, like swerve into oncoming traffic, or jump in front of a train.
It is a mixture of conscious and unconscious mind states. Some researchers refer to the void as a High Place Phenomenon (HPP). Actually, the phrase was coined by the Florida State University after conducting a study in 2012 about this very topic. Scholars believe that this “call” is not an indication of suicidal thoughts, but is instead a survival instinct. Instead of seeing these thoughts as a warning that we want to harm ourselves, the call of the void may really be an affirmation of your will to live, as most people do not act on the impulse. The Florida State University study found that people with higher anxiety tended to experience the call of the void more often.
Miami University in Ohio also studied this phenomenon and found that the call of the void urge is experienced by around fifty percent of people, most of whom do not have suicidal tendencies. For those with suicide ideation – thoughts of taking your own life – the call of the void could prove potentially dangerous, as they may act on this impulse, rather than fight against it.
There have been other theories about the phenomenon, including that of Jean-Paul Sarte, a French philosopher. He saw this as “a moment of Existentialist truth about the human freedom to choose to live or die.” Regardless, this interesting, and somewhat frightening phenomenon affects approximately half of us.
Below is an informative video about the topic. Please note their warning before watching.