Loss and Grief in the Context of Mental Illness

Bernice Brijan, D. Strijbos

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Abstract

In this article, we take a first step towards a phenomenological study of loss and grief in the context of mental illness. We argue for a distinction between various aspects of the experience of loss in the context of psychopathology, as well as between the experience of loss and the presence of grief over loss from a self-relational, existential stance. A first aspect of the experience of loss is the loss that is intrinsic to psychopathology. This concerns the alteration of a certain way of being-in-the-world, which can be understood as involving a particular kind of loss, namely that of being part of a shared world. A second aspect is the experience of loss that occurs as a result of and/or following on experiences of mental illness. Both aspects stand in a complex diachronic re- lationship with each other. In order to understand the relationship between the experience of loss in the context of mental illness and the presence of grief, the role of the existential, self-relational stance is crucial. Taking an existential stance enables a person to relate to their own experiences and situation, there- by enabling to feel the experiences of loss as something to grief about. In this way, grief can play a central role in a person’s journey toward recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRecovery
Subtitle of host publicationThe Interface between Psychiatry and Spiritual Care
EditorsE. Olsman, B.N.M. Brijan, X.J.S. Rosie, J.K. Muthert
Place of PublicationUtrecht
PublisherUitgeverij Eburon
Pages133-145
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9789463014359
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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