I couldn’t tell if they were distinguishing an actual urge from simply imagining the jump. With many dangers, you can react on a subconcious level, to heat, to noise, to pain, to the sight of a threat. Gravity is imperceptible (you’re soaking in it), and recognition of its danger maybe relies on a cognitive ability to rehearse the possible scenarios. That’s not necessarily an urge.
When my beloved child misbehaved, and was in danger from my invisible parental powers, I’d say “Look into the future. How do you think this is going to turn out?” OK, maybe there is a little bit of urge in there. My daughter often “jumped” anyway.
I clearly recall, a few days after the first time I skydived (skydove?) I was walking across a bridge, and the distance down didn’t look too challenging. Then I realized what I was thinking.
I don’t like heights. While it’s not the irrational fear that most acrophobics experience and it’s not paralyzing, I don’t go out of my way to deliberately put myself in high places.
I distinctly feel this urge to jump and know exactly what they are talking about. I fantasize about falling to my death and the emotions that swirl up as I imagine this happening. Seeing images of people jumping from WTC on 9/11 can also bring up these feelings.
I am definitely not suicidal and do not fantasize other methods of dying but I can say for sure that high places do hold a strange allure over me.
Good to know I’m not weird.
I should run back home and get my parachute!
I don’t know how common this urge is but it seems to run in my family. Myself, my mother and one of my brothers have all expressed and discussed this urge in the past, whilst having no suicidal thoughts respectively, as far as I am aware, when discussed at the time. Although some years later my brother did choose to take his own life quite deliberately and calculatedly via a method involving jumping from a high place. I don’t know if that information is of any value but I thought I’d put it out there. It was many years ago now.
A related phenomenon among sailors is the irrational urge to jump overboard; that is called “calenture.”
Oh and one more thing; my family members and I all agreed that this urge had a, for want of a better word, rational feel to it. It wasn’t blind suicidal abandon nor irrational recklessness - it was more calculated. More cerebral.
I never thought of it as an “urge” and I am still not sure that is exactly what it is, but I never liked heights because I often found myself thinking about my body suddenly deciding to jump from that height… maybe it is an urge that another part of my brain is just fighting with at that moment…?
Used to work on roof tops and everybody got the feeling and it bothered everybody a little but you just got used to it.
For me, it was a thought like “I could totally just walk over the edge… Whoa that would be so stupid, why did that even come to mind?”.
I see Alastor’s point about the “urge” part being calculated or cerebral. It is as if you just notice a fact, that happens to be true, that it is possible to jump, and then the reaction is strongly emotional: “no way! what did it mean that I just thought that ?!”
Always reminded me of something from back in sunday school. Matthew 4:5
If you’re scared of falling, that comes from your creative powers. We bathe in gravity, skipping rope and vaulting with poles. Fear of heights is rational, a fear where you have to really think about what would happen.
That can be confused with an urge.
Thank you – that is also what I experience. It is not a “I really want to jump off this bridge” sensation but more of a “if I stand here too long my stupid brain might conclude that jumping off the bridge is a good idea.”
I have much the same visceral reaction about guns.
A fear that the brain might decide “There’s only one way to find out for sure!”
Poe tells us that this is caused by ‘The Imp of the Perverse’, and that
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.
I have an intense terror of heights. I wouldn’t call what I feel an ‘urge’ to jump, it’s more like an almost tangible sensation of the void trying to suck me out into it. I never think about jumping but rather about the whole world tilting so that I slip off whatever surface I’m on, or the wind picking me right up and over whatever distance or bannister standing between myself and the drop.
I’d like to add a couple more points of view, that are probably quite irrelevant, however why not? My most common dreams (that are most memorable to my conscious mind upon waking), consist of falling and flying and these are the situations in my dreamstate that can occasionally lead to a semi-lucid awareness. Of course at this point I will to make myself fly but my ‘control’ over it is shaky. I either soar up to a ceiling of a high cathedral-like building before realising as I look down, I have no idea how to control my descent. Or less occasionally, I seem to will myself to float gently just around human head height with apparent greater control.
One more thing has occured to me. I think the word ‘urge’, as we have been using it in this context, doesn’t quite fit the experience to me. To me an urge implies a greater likelihood to act as opposed to, a more fitting word, impulse that can be more easily handled.
I have been mildly suicidal for years, but even before that I remember experiencing this.
I am very uncomfortable with heights, and have a couple times been paralyzed with fear in certain situations that in retrospect should not have been so fear inducing. I also feel the same sensation that you describe: a sense of uncontrollable forces pulling me down or over. It can be any sort of height, even the top of my stairs will do it. I can go down the stairs just fine, and its not a great height by any means. But just simply standing at the top and looking down, I start to feel like my body will suddenly fling itself down the stairs if I don’t move backwards to prevent that from happening.
Maybe unrelated, but I also get the same sort of sensation with pointy objects near my eyes, like the object will suddenly come at my eyeball if I look at it too closely.
I’ve never had either actually happen of course
When I was about 10 or so, me and my family visited the cliffs in Dover. As I was walking along the top I began to feel, not really any kind of urge but more almost like a magnetic pull every time I looked over the edge. This frightened me so much that I had to get on my hands and knees to go anywhere near the edge. That feeling persists to this day and I am deathly afraid of heights because of it. Maybe I’m part lemming…