Bereavement and the Brain: Invitation to a Conversation between Bereavement Researchers and Neuroscientists
Neuropsychiatric Institute, Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, UCLA, 300 Medical Plaza, Room 3156, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7076, USA. Death Studies
(Impact Factor: 0.92).
01/2006; 29(10):905-22. DOI: 10.1080/07481180500299063
A recent development by neuroscience is neuroimaging, a method of looking into the "black box" of the brain while people are feeling, doing, and thinking in real time. The first fMRI study of bereavement has recently been published, and the present article summarizes it in non-specialist language, focusing on its theoretical and clinical applications. In an attempt to bridge the gap between bereavement researchers and neuroscientists, the author discusses how these two fields could assist each other in forwarding both fields. Three current debates in the field of bereavement research are outlined, including (a) adaptation in the normal grief process, (b) complicated grief vs. resilience, and (c) meaning-making vs. return-to-baseline models of bereavement. The potential contribution of neuroscientific data to these debates is discussed in several hypothetical examples. These examples stimulate thinking about the reciprocity between 2 questions: What can bereavement teach us about the brain? and What can the brain tell us about bereavement? This article is designed to provide enough background for investigators who are primarily concerned with the brain and those primarily concerned with bereavement to open a dialogue between both of these fields.
Available from: Joanne Cacciatore
- "In addition to the surprising frequency of stillbirth, mothers and families often experience a variety of physical, mental and social maladies in the period after a child is born still. These deleterious effects, which include suicidal ideation, increased maternal mortality, somatisation, family disorganisation, economic deprivation , social isolation, depression, anxiety, pining and mental illness (DeFrain et al. 1990, Ney et al. 1994, Shalev 2000, Laakso & Paunonen-Ilmonen 2002, Gundel et al. 2003, Jiong et al. 2003, Michon et al. 2003, Rubin et al. 2003, O'Connor 2005, Cacciatore 2007), make stillbirth a major public health problem facing pregnant women and their families (Bright 1991, DeFrain et al. 1990, Silver 2007). "
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ABSTRACT: While most births result in a live baby, stillbirth (the birth of a dead baby) occurs in nearly 1 in 110 pregnancies. This study examined whether levels of maternal anxiety and depression are lower amongst mothers who received social support after stillbirth. Using non-probability sampling, data were collected from 769 mothers residing within the USA who experienced a stillbirth within the past 18 months and for whom we have complete data. The study Maternal Observations and Memories of Stillbirth and the website http://www.momstudy.com containing the questionnaire were open in the period 8 February 2004–15 September 2005. Congruent with the family stress and coping theory, mothers of stillborn babies who perceived family support in the period after stillbirth experienced levels of anxiety and depression that were notably lower than those of their counterparts. Nurses, physicians and support groups also were important sources of support after a stillbirth; however, these sources of support alone were not statistically significant in reducing anxiety and depression in grieving mothers. Community interventions should focus on the grieving mother and her family system, including her partner and surviving children.
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ABSTRACT: Experiences and symptoms emanating from the bereaved person's body are commonly considered to be psychosomatic reactions to loss. The lingering of such experiences is thought to reflect a maladaptive coping style that needs to be addressed to access the psychological pain underlying the symptoms. In this interpretive, phenomenological study of 15 family members in seven families who lost a child to sudden, unexpected death, stories of embodied grief are explored to further understand the grieving body. The findings of this study illuminate the many ways parents experience their grieving body and they underscore the importance of witnessing and acknowledging stories of the body in clinical work with bereaved parents who are learning to live in a world without their beloved child.
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