LIFE AFTER LOSS by Vamik D. Volkan


The Lessons of Grief
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 A psychiatrist reveals what he's learned about how we mourn- -and what happens when we can't. With the assistance of journalist Zintl, Volkan (Psychiatry/University of Virginia Medical Center) details how we deal with what he calls ``uncomplicated'' mourning--the psychological response to the tolerable loss of someone with whom we had little unfinished business. In successful mourning, there is movement from denial to acceptance, followed by an assessment of the relationship with the lost one and a letting-go. Mourning that doesn't progress normally is termed ``complicated'' by Volkan, who looks at the factors that lead to it, such as unfinished business with the deceased, unresolved past losses, external circumstances, and one's particular emotional makeup. Case studies from the author's practice illustrate how people may become stuck in denial, be unable to resolve their loss, and be plunged into depression. Volkan shares his views on how to help the relatively few who require psychotherapy in dealing with grief. He cautions against emotion-muffling drugs and offers his own program of ``regrief'' therapy--a brief but intense form of treatment utilizing objects such as photographs or personal possessions that link the patient to the lost one. But although Volkan directs his words not just to those experiencing grief but also to bereavement counselors and care givers, the information on grief therapy, and specifically on his own regrief therapy, is too scanty to provide much guidance. In a final chapter, the author touches on the link between mourning and creativity. Volkan offers some understanding of a universal human experience, but his therapeutic advice is too brief to be truly useful.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-684-19574-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993


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