The urge to jump  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The urge to jump is a well-known irrational impulse to throw oneself off a height into the void, despite the very rational fear of heights.

The 'urge to jump' was perhaps first described by Edgar Allan Poe in his novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838):

"my whole soul was pervaded with a longing to fall; a desire, a yearning, a passion utterly uncontrollable."

Poe described the phenomenon more in detail in his short story "The Imp of the Perverse" (1845):

"There is no passion in nature so demoniacally impatient, as that of him who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus meditates a Plunge."

The novella Lokis (1869) by Prosper Mérimée also describes the phenomenon:

“Have you never found yourself at the top of a tower, or even at the edge of a precipice, having at the same time a desire to throw yourself down into space, and a feeling of terror absolutely the reverse? . . .”

Strictly speaking, the urge to jump has no name but several proposals have been made, ranging from "high cliff syndrome" to "l'appel du vide" (French for "call of the void.") Other proposals include "transvoltum" and the term 'imp of the perverse' itself, after the short story by Poe.

Lee Baer, a leading specialist on obsessive–compulsive disorder, references Poe in his book The Imp of the Mind (2001) on intrusive thoughts.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The urge to jump" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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