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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Jan;200(1):56-62. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31823e577f.

The role of self-concept clarity in prolonged grief disorder.

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  • 1Clinical and Health Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands.


Three studies using independent samples of bereaved individuals were conducted to examine the association of self-concept clarity (SCC) with symptoms of prolonged grief disorder (PGD), a debilitating syndrome than can develop after bereavement. Study 1 (N = 67) showed that lower SCC was associated with greater PGD severity, independent from self-concept content change. Using a retrospective design, Study 2 (N = 116) showed that a loss can coincide with a decline in SCC, the magnitude of which was associated with acute PGD severity. Study 2 also showed that the maintenance of PGD symptoms over time was associated with a smaller increase in SCC beyond the first month of bereavement and not with this acute SCC decline. Using a prospective-longitudinal design, Study 3 (N = 121) showed that the impact of lower SCC on concurrent and prospective PGD severity was mediated by lower self-esteem, depressive avoidance, and rumination. Moreover, lower initial SCC predicted PGD severity 6 months later.

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