Psychological Medicine

Short Communication

BRIEF COMMUNICATION Parasuicide, depression and the anticipation of positive and negative future experiences

A. K. MacLEOD a1 , B. PANKHANIA a1 , M. LEE a1 and D. MITCHELL a1
a1 Royal Holloway University of London and West Surrey Health Authority


Background. Previous research has shown that parasuicides' view of the future is characterized by an absence of anticipation of positive experiences rather than the presence of anticipation of negative experiences. The present study aimed to replicate this finding and examine whether it would also be found in parasuicides who were not depressed.

Method. Depressed parasuicides (N=27), non-depressed parasuicides (N=17) and matched controls (N=34) were assessed on their anticipation of future positive and negative experiences using an adapted fluency paradigm, where they were given a set time to generate future positive and negative anticipated experiences.

Results. Consistent with previous findings, parasuicides showed an overall reduced anticipation of positive experiences and no overall increased anticipation of negative experiences. However, the parasuicides did show evidence of increased negative anticipation for the immediate future. The results for depressed and non-depressed parasuicides were essentially the same.

Conclusion. Lack of positive anticipation in the absence of increased negative anticipation is a feature of parasuicide. Although this lack of positive anticipation can occur in depression, it appears to be an independent feature of parasuicide.


Dr Andrew MacLeod, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX.