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Schneidman (Edwin S.) papers
LSC.0385  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biographical History
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Separated Materials

  • Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Title: Edwin S. Shneidman papers
    Identifier/Call Number: LSC.0385
    Physical Description: 37.0 Linear Feet (37 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1933-2007
    Abstract: Edwin S. Shneidman (1918-2009), Psychologist and Professor of Thanatology, was a leader in suicide research, or suicidology as he called it. His interest in the nature of suicide and the suicidal mental state began in the late 1940s, and he dedicated his life to understanding and prevention of suicide. Shneidman's theory of suicide was based on his idea of psychological pain he termed "psychache." His theories are vastly influential in today's suicide research and prevention. Shneidman founded the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center in 1955, developed a national suicide prevention center program with the NIMH in the 1960s, and authored 20 books and hundreds of articles. In 1987 Shneidman received the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Service. The collection contains research files on suicide, restricted patient information, correspondence, related audio-visual materials, and a small collection of Herman Melville ephemera.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research, with the exception of materials protected under HIPAA or for which there is sensitive health information in Series 1: Biographical, Series 2: Correspondence, Series 5: Professional and Academic Activities, and Series 8: Suicide Research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    In order to access materials that are protected under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) or for which there is sensitive health information, please submit a research protocol to Library Special Collections at speccoll@library.ucla.edu.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: This collection contains both processed and unprocessed audiovisual materials. Audiovisual materials are not currently available for access, unless otherwise noted in a Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note at the series and file levels. All requests to access processed digital materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

    Property rights to the physical objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Edwin S. Schneidman papers (Collection Number 385). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Edwin Shneidman, 2009.

    Processing Information

    Collections are processed to a variety of levels depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived user interest and research value, availability of staff and resources, and competing priorities. Library Special Collections provides a standard level of preservation and access for all collections and, when time and resources permit, conducts more intensive processing. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards and best practices.
    Processed by Daniella Perry and Amanda Stemen with assistance from Megan Hahn Fraser in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), October 2011.
    Updates to Conditions Governing Access and Arrangement notes by Tess Livesly-O'Neill, 2021.
    The processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia funds.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6930298 

    Biographical History

    Edwin S. Shneidman (1918-2009), Psychologist and Professor of Thanatology, was a leader in suicide research, or suicidology as he called it. His interest in the nature of suicide and the suicidal mental state began in 1949. He found hundreds of suicide notes in the Los Angeles County Coroner's office while researching two cases. The rest of his life was dedicated to the understanding and prevention of suicide. Shneidman held appointments at Harvard, the National Institutes of Mental Health, the Center for Advanced Studies of Behavioral Science at Stanford, and at UCLA. His theory of suicide was based on the notion that there is a threshold of mental/emotional pain upon which some individuals come to feel that cessation of life is the one and only solution. Shneidman termed this pain "psychache," and could be researched without resorting to biological or genetic causation. Shneidman concluded that most suicidal individuals, while in the fatal suicidal state, are ambivalent about dying and can be saved. His theories are vastly influential in today's suicide research and prevention.
    Shneidman became the first Professor of Thanatology at UCLA in 1970 and remained a full-time professor there until 1988. Shneidman also founded the Los Angeles Suicide Prevention Center in 1955, with Norman Farberow and Robert E. Litman. In 1966, he was asked to develop a national suicide prevention center program at the NIMH. Shneidman authored 20 books and hundreds of articles. Shneidman believed that suicidology should be about the understanding of the whole individual. He developed the "psychological autopsy," a method of figuring out an equivocal death, or a retrospective investigation of the intention of the decedent. Shneidman also believed that post-vention, the treatment of an attempted-suicide and the suicide's family, was just as important as prevention and intervention.
    In the late 1960s, Shneidman founded the American Association of Suicidology and its journal, Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. As an internationally recognized scholar on suicide and suicide prevention, he was active in developing suicide or life-threatening behavior prevention programs in various centers at UCLA, as well as in Japan. In 1987 Shneidman received the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Service.
    As a fan of Herman Melville, Edwin Shneidman wrote extensively on the suicidal connections in Melville's life and his writings, such as Moby Dick. Shneidman was a member of the Herman Melville Society and donated his Melville Collection to UCLA in the late 1980s. Shneidman's personal collection contains left over Melville ephemera and related correspondence with the Melville Society and Shneidman's work on Melville.

    Scope and Contents

    The collection contains research on suicide, including restricted materials on suicidal patients, professional and personal correspondence, documents related to Shneidman's professional responsibilities, literature authored by Shneidman, and documents and correspondence related to Herman Melville. There are several boxes containing audio-visual materials of transcripts, radio and television appearances, patient conversations, and a NIMH suicide training manual.

    Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in the following series:
    Series 1: Biographical
    Series 2: Correspondence
    Series 3: ESS Publications
    Series 4: Herman Melville Documents
    Series 5: Professional and Academic Activities
    Series 6: Reference Materials
    Series 7: Suicide Prevention Centers
    Series 8: Suicide Research

    Separated Materials

    Items removed from the collection include non-Shneidman personnel files, empty folders, duplicate files, and reprinted publications.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Thanatologists -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archives.
    Suicide -- Research -- Archives.
    Book collectors -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archives.
    Shneidman, Edwin S. --Archives.