Sociologist Emile Durkheim wrote about contributing factors to an individual’s suicide in his 1897 work titled, Suicide and Modernity. Durkheim speaks of both internal and external causes that can lead suicidal tendencies. Suicide can result if one’s unique needs are not being met in society (Durkheim 1897:75). If these needs are not fulfilled an individual feels alone in this world because he/she is disconnected. Notable sociologists Max Weber and Karl Marx speak of this same disconnection in a different manner. In Weber’s work titled, The Spirit of Capitalism and the Iron Cage, he speaks of the physical iron cage that capitalism has created around every individual. This capitalist ethic causes individuals to work very hard without experiencing bliss, “the earning of more and more money combined with the strict avoidance of all spontaneous enjoyment in life, is above all completely devoid of any eudomonistic, not to say hedonistic, admixture” (Weber 1905:102). Weber goes on to describe Protestant asceticism and fundamental components in capitalism, however he never speaks of where this disconnection may lead an individual. Also, Weber does not divulge where emotions may lead an individual; for example, if someone is in deep pain they may choose to numb themselves with drugs.
In Karl Marx’s work Estranged Labour he depicts the possibilities of great alienation. Marx describes how this estrangement can occur through labor practices, yet he does not explain the latter effects of this separation. In this work the relations between property owners and workers is portrayed as a greedy one that produces competition. Although Michael Jackson was a wealthy “property owner,” he was still giving his labor to large conglomerates for profit. The loss of reality is also addressed in this piece, “ what is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal” (Marx 1844:33). The human worker no longer feels comfortable in his own skin due to this alienation produced by labor, according to Marx, however no consequences are addressed for this notion.