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Chapter 9

PSY 802 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Psychomotor Agitation, Attachment Theory, Muscle Weakness

Course Code
PSY 802
Thomas Hart

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Chapter Nine: Survivors
Bereavement (“shorn off or torn up”): objective event of loss; sense of deprivation that some part of ourselves has
been stripped away against our will; normal event in human experience
Grief: highly variable reaction to loss/bereavement (encompasses thoughts and feelings – including those that are
sometimes conflicting, as well as physical, behavioural, and spiritual responses), such as:
Reaction may appear immediately upon learning of death, or may be delayed (even absent)
Mental or cognitive distress may manifest as anxiety, tension, a pervasive sense of disorganization, etc.
Initially, survivors may appear depressed; may also experience periods of euphoria
Paranormal or psychic experiences are not unusual
Outrage at apparent injustice, and frustration with inability to control events
Things and events may seem unreal; sensory responses undependable
Contrastingly, may have heightened perceptual and emotional sensitivity to people and events
Muscle weakness, chills, nervous system hyperactivity, insomnia/sleep disruptions, appetite changes
Psychomotor agitation: aimless wandering
Crying and “searching” for the deceased
Incessant talking about the deceased and circumstances of death
Contrastingly, may avoid talking about loss
Periodically irritable or hostile
May withdraw from social interaction, or may exhibit frenetic overactivity and general restlessness
Re-examination of religious or spiritual beliefs in order to find meaning in a loss
Relying on religiosity or spirituality for consolation
Question fundamental assumptions about the world and role in the world
Assumptive world: world we expect to be safe and reliable
Idea is often demolished; must relearn how to live in all dimensions affected by loss
Mourning (often used as a synonym for grief): process by which a bereaved person integrates loss into ongoing life,
rather than the reaction to loss
Determined (at least partially) by social and cultural norms for grief expression
Mater dolorosa: earlier representation of socially prescribed way of mourning (veiled woman in black
Cross-cultural theme: bereaved are different and this difference diminishes with time
oSeen in customs that involve seclusion (abstaining from social relationships) of the bereaved
oSeclusion purposes: shelter grief from the world; prevents survivors from forgetting deceased too
Altering one’s appearance is a sign of mourning in many societies
Native Americans shorn hair to signify mourning (representation of symbolic and actual sacrifice in
memory and respect)
Tasks of Mourning
Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning
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1. Accept the reality
Most significant signpost is transition from present to past tense
2. Process the pain (physical, emotional, and behavioural)
Humor can lighten the weight
3. Adjust to a world without the deceased
Symbolized by actions such as rearranging furniture or changing dining table’s place settings
4. Find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of embarking on a new life
Recognition that there are other people to love, without forgetting or stopping loving the deceased
Rando’s Tasks of Grief: The Six R’s
1. Recognize loss (acknowledge and understand)
2. React to separation (experience the pain; feel, identify, accept, and express grief; identify and mourn
secondary losses)
3. Recollect and re-experience the deceased and the relationship (review and remember realistically; revive
and re-experience feelings)
4. Relinquish (give up) the old attachments to the deceased and the old assumptive world
5. Readjust to a move adaptively into new world without forgetting the old (formation of a new identity;
develop a new relationship with the deceased)
6. Reinvest (emotional energy invested in relationship with the deceased needs to be redirected in an
emotionally gratifying way)
Models of Grief
Human beings have an affinity for patterns and models that offer sense in complex phenomena
Models may bring us solace; however, they tend to be oversimplified and unrealistic
Freud’s Working Through Grief (widely accepted as standard model)
Gained emphasis in 1917 paper “Mourning and Melancholia”
Central message is the necessity to gradually “let go” of the affectional attachment bonds to the deceased
Working through and relinquishing these attachments
Grief as adaptive response that occurs throughout an active process over time
Relies on confrontation and acceptance of reality of loss
Attachment theory: when a person recognizes an object to which he/she is attached no longer exists, grief arises,
along with a defensive psychological demand to withdraw energy from the object
Resistance to demand to withdraw energy, causing survivor to temporarily turn away from reality to cling
to lost object
Energy previously invested eventually detaches, and ego (personality) is freed, so new relationships can
Parkes: this is unrealistic due to the uniqueness, irreplaceability of relationships
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