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Death Stud. 1999 Sep;23(6):495-519.

Dying, mourning, and spirituality: a psychological perspective.

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  • 1California State University, Sacramento, USA. Bobmarrone@aol.com.

Abstract

Based in an unfortunate tradition that stretches back in time to Watson's behaviorism and Freud's psychoanalysis, psychology has tended to reject and to pathologize matters of the spirit. In the past 30 years, however, with the advent of what has been termed the cognitive revolution, psychology has greatly expanded the scope of its subject matter. Psychologists and thanatologists have begun to unravel the cognitive underpinnings of our assumptive world and the transformation of those underpinnings in times of crisis and stress. This article examines the cognitive basis of the spiritual experience and the use of cognitive assimilation, accommodation strategies during the process of mourning the death of a loved one, as well as during the process of living our own dying. Of special importance to mental health professionals and clergy, new research on dying, mourning, and spirituality suggests that the specific ways in which people rediscover meaning--such as belief in traditional religious doctrine, the afterlife, reincarnation, philanthropy, or a spiritual order to the universe--may be less important than the process itself. In other words, in the midst of dealing with profound loss in our lives, the ability to reascribe meaning to a changed world through spiritual transformation, religious conversion, or existential change may be more significant than the specific content by which that need is filled.

PMID:
10558611
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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