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Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2001;38(3-4):185-201.

The traumatization of grief? A conceptual framework for understanding the trauma-bereavement interface.

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Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Scientific opinion differs on whether pathological (or complicated, traumatic) grief is an entity distinct from post-traumatic stress disorder. Some argue that it is different, and for the creation of a new category of pathological grief for the DSM system, while others consider bereavement and associated grief reactions to fall within the category of traumatic life events, for which the existing system would offer adequate classification. Although investigators have begun to explore similarities and differences in the trauma and bereavement domains, there is still confusion and lack of consensus about definitions and basic concepts. A conceptual framework, suggested here, may help bring clarity to the area. Our analysis shows that the lack of consensus about the nature of reactions and disorders of bereavement is due to concentration on different parts of the framework. Furthermore, the lack of differentiation between traumatic and non-traumatic bereavement has caused neglect of the unique features of non-traumatic grief reactions. These components need further exploration, especially since extension of DSM classification is currently under consideration.

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