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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 8

of 'Grief and bereavement in adults: Management'

Attachment, loss, and complicated grief.
Shear K, Shair H
Dev Psychobiol. 2005;47(3):253.
Bereavement is a highly disruptive experience that is usually followed by a painful but time-limited period of acute grief. An unfortunate minority of individuals experience prolonged and impairing complicated grief, an identifiable syndrome that differs from usual grief, major depression, and other DSM IV diagnostic entities. Underlying processes guiding symptoms are not well understood for either usual or complicated grief. We propose a provisional model of bereavement, guided by Myron Hofer's question "What exactly is lost when a loved one dies?" We integrate insights about biobehavioral regulation from Hofer's animal studies of infant separation, research on adult human attachment, and new ideas from bereavement research. In this model, death of an attachment figure produces a state of traumatic loss and symptoms of acute grief. These symptoms usually resolve following revision of the internalized representation of the deceased to incorporate the reality of the death. Failure to accomplish this integration results in the syndrome of complicated grief.
Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. shearmk@upmc.edu