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Chapter 1

Thanatology 2200 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: John Bowlby, Neurochemistry, Circulatory System

Course Code
THAN 2200
Eunice Gorman

of 4
Classic Grief Theories
Premises authors agree on:
a) loss os at the heart of life and growth
b) loss promotes self-reflection and growth, particularly when the mourner’s experiences is
validated and supported
Task Theories:
a) Freud
- the bereaved must be de-cathected/separated from the deceased
- task was to detach from the loved person
- one year limit on grief
b) Lindemann
- studied grief after the Coconut Grove fire in 1942
- mourner be emancipated from the bondage to the deceased
- the bereaved needed to readjust to the environment in which the deceased was missing
- formulate new relationships
c) Worden
- began in 1982 and formulated 4 tasks which have changed over the years
- accept the reality of the loss
- experience the pain of the grief
- adjust to the new environment in which the deceased is missing
- emotionally relocate the deceased and move on with life (is revised later on)
Stage Theories:
a) Kubler - Ross
- studied the stages of dying patients, not the bereaved
- five stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance
b) John Bowlby
- stages of grief as: numbness, separation anxiety, despair and disorganization, acquisition of
new roles/reorganization
Grief Work:
a) Therese Rando (1993)
- developed the 6 R’s: recognize the loss, react to the separation, recollect and re-experience the
decease and the relationship, relinquish old attachments, readjust to move into a new world
without forgetting the old, and reinvest in new relationships and roles
b) Worden
- moves into a more modern fourth step
- changed to fourth task to: find an enduring connection with the deceased in the midst of a new
life (very much like continuing bonds)
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Reading p.1-13
Biological Effects of Grief
- mental and physical health affect each other (mix of positive + negative emotions is good for
- immune system is a potent mediator of mental and physical health in connection with levels of
expressed emotion
- genetic expression can change as a result of stress or grief. can also play a role in how people
experience grief
- cortisol levels increase in depressed and stressed individuals (grieving affects neurochemistry
and the structure of the brain)
- the cardiovascular system is affected by psychological factors due to the disruption of
- important for grief counsellors to promote physical health
- regular exercise, balanced diet with increased vic B and antioxidants, increased omega-3 and
exposure to light
Psychological Effects of Grief
- development plays an important role in the processing of loss
- loss stimulates an acute sense of vulnerability
- major losses are made up of smaller, secondary losses
- grief continues long after the acute phase resolves
- cumulative grief in nursing
Social Aspects of Grief
- funerals traditionally grounded in religious practice and provided the community a social way
of mourning
- allows a griever to have a sense of control and lowers levels of grief and mourning
- people are now using social media as a means to share their grief, there are websites available
to help those confront death and anxiety, hospital services of remembrance
- when social expectations are violated, grief and grieving are affected
- norms and rules about losses to be mourned and the people entitled to mourn them are social
- each person has their own assumptions about how the world works, this is what makes the
world familiar and predictable = the assumptive world (traumatic events violate it and trigger
Introduction to Grief Theory
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Task Based Theories
- freud was one of the first to address grief, melancholia and mourning in a scholarly
- we can mourn for things, values and statuses, not only as a response to death
- grief and mourning are not pathological
- the mourner must decathect from the lost identity “letting go”
- mourning is only completed when the ego becomes free by virtue of decathecting libido
to a new love object via cathexis
- suggests that a year is the customary time necessary for this to occur
- recathexis is not likely to fill the gap of the thing lost
Erich Lindemann
- grief normally includes somatic distress, preoccupation with the deceased, guilt and
sometimes hostile reactions
- the tasks of grief must be accomplished, which are:
a) emancipation from bondage to the deceased
b) readjustment to the environment in which the deceased is missing
c) formulation of new relationships
- not a totally interior psychological process
- 4 to 6 weeks to accomplish these tasks as a norm, caused people to avoid grief expression
after this amount of time
J. William Worden
a) acknowledge the reality of the loss
b) process the pain of the grief
c) adjust to a world without the deceased
d) find and enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new life
- provides a way to work with the griever without the assumption of “cure” but with the
expectation that grievers can be assisted in moving through their grief
- adds the experience of processing pain
- provides an action plan and a way of taking hold of a process that often feels out of control
Stage Based Theories
Kübler -Ross
- interested in empirical date
- identifies hope as an important characteristic
- her stages were developed for people who are losing their lives, not those who have lost
loved ones (very different experiences)
- “the mother of grief theory”
- stage of denial is particularly misunderstood. it is a healthy way of dealing with the
uncomfortable and painful situation with which the patient has to live with for a long
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