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Hagman, G. (1995). Mourning: A Review And Reconsideration. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:909-925.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:909-925

Mourning: A Review And Reconsideration

George Hagman

The psychoanalytic model of mourning, while useful in its depiction of a certain type of process, may not be valid as a general model. The author of this paper reviews the development of the standard psychoanalytic model of mourning, and offers a critique from several perspectives. First, the psychoanalytic literature and data from clinical practice fails to confirm basic components of mourning theory. Second, some non-analytic research is at odds with several of the model's key assumptions, and historical studies have shown how individuals in western culture have mourned differently over time. Finally, from a cross-cultural perspective it is also clear that there is infinite variety in people's responses to death, in how they mourn, and in the nature of their internalisation of the lost object. In closing, a perspective on bereavement is proposed that, rather than being process-oriented, understands mourning to be an adaptive response to specific task demands arising from loss which must be dealt with regardless of individual, culture or historical era.

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