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Working with grieving adults

  • Andrew Clark

Abstract

Despite the dearth of recent psychiatric literature on the subject of grief, mental health professionals continue to see patients suffering from complex responses to grief. This article reviews psychological theories about normal and abnormal grief, drawing particularly on the work of Freud, Klein, Bowlby and Parkes. It describes the principles of grief work, using as illustration clinical examples of adults grieving as a result of bereavement. These principles also apply to work with adults grieving other forms of loss (e.g. breakdown of a love relationship, loss of employment or loss of physical health).

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References

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Bowlby, J. (1980) Attachment and Loss. Volume 3. Loss: Sadness and Depression. London: Penguin Books.
Freud, S. (1917) Mourning and melancholia. Reprinted (1953–1974) in the Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (trans. and ed. Strachey, J.) vol. 14. London: Hogarth Press.
Freud, S. (1923) The ego and the id. Reprinted (1953–1974) in the Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud (trans. and ed. Strachey, J.) vol. 19. London: Hogarth Press.
Hawton, K. & Simkin, S. (2003) Helping people bereaved by suicide. BMJ, 327, 177178.
Holmes, J. (2001) The Search for the Secure Base. London: Brunner-Routledge.
Jacobs, S., Hansen, F., Kasl, S. et al (1990) Anxiety disorders during acute bereavement: risk and risk factors. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 51, 269274.
Klein, M. (1940) Mourning and its relation to manic depressive states. In The Writings of Melanie Klein. Volume 1. Love, Guilt and Reparation, pp. 344369. London: Hogarth Press.
Lewis, C. S. (1966) A Grief Observed. London: Faber & Faber.
Maddison, D. & Viola, A. (1968) The health of widows in the year following bereavement. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 12, 297306.
Marmar, C. R., Horowitz, M. J., Weiss, D. S. et al (1988) A controlled trial of brief psychotherapy and mutual-help group treatment of conjugal bereavement. American Journal of Psychiatry, 145, 203209.
Mawson, D., Marks, I. M., Ramm, L. et al (1981) Guided mourning for morbid grief: a controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 138, 185193.
Mitchell, A. & House, A. (2000) Adjustment to illness, handicap and bereavement. In New Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry (eds Gelder, M. G., Lopez-Ibor, J. J. & Andreassen, N. C.) pp. 11391147. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Parkes, C. M. (1985) Bereavement. British Journal of Psychiatry, 146, 1117.
Parkes, C. M. (1986) Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Pascoe, J. (2002) Our Father who Art in a Tree: A Novel. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Raphael, B. (1977) Preventative intervention with the recently bereaved. Archives of General Psychiatry, 34, 450454.
Royal College of Psychiatrists (1997) Bereavement. Mental Health Information Leaflet. London: Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Symington, J. & Symington, N. (1996) The Clinical Thinking of Wilfred Bion. London: Routledge.
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BJPsych Advances
  • ISSN: 1355-5146
  • EISSN: 1472-1481
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-advances
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Working with grieving adults

  • Andrew Clark
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