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The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us about Life After Lossby George A Bonanno
Synopses & Reviews
We tend to understand grief as a predictable five-stage process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But in The Other Side of Sadness, George Bonanno shows that our conventional model discounts our capacity for resilience. In fact, he reveals that we are already hardwired to deal with our losses efficiently—not by graduating through static phases. Weaving in explorations of mourning rituals and the universal experiences of the death of a parent or child, Bonanno examines how our inborn emotions—anger and denial, but also relief and joy—help us deal effectively with loss. And grieving goes beyond mere sadness: it can deepen interpersonal connections and often involves positive experiences. In the end, mourning is not predictable, but incredibly sophisticated. Combining personal anecdotes and original research, The Other Side of Sadness is a must-read for those going through the death of a loved one, mental health professionals, and readers interested in neuroscience and positive psychology.
"He once helped debunk the theory of repressed memory; now this Columbia clinical psychology professor takes on the conventional wisdom about grieving. There's little evidence to support the existence of 'stages of mourning' or the corollary that if the stages aren't followed completely, there's cause for alarm. What Bonanno does find is 'a natural resilience' that guides us through the sadness of loss, and grief, rather than distracting us, actually causes the mind to focus; it also elicits the 'compassion and concern' that humans are hard-wired to offer in response to another's suffering. Bonanno acknowledges that grief is sometimes extreme and requires treatment, much like post-traumatic stress disorder. But with this work, science and common sense come together in a thoughtful, kindhearted way; stories of loss go far beyond striking a familiar chord — they give us hope. As one mother who lost her daughter tells Bonanno, even years later she felt her daughter was like a 'little ember, and if I need to, if I want to have Claire next to me, I blow on it, ever so gently, and it glows bright again.'" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Bonanno (clinical psychology, Columbia U.) challenges conventional ideas about grief to illustrate how it is not experienced uniformly and that a prescribed pattern discounts human capacity for resilience. He argues that grief can deepen interpersonal connections and lead to a new sense of meaning. Through studies and interviews with hundreds of people, he discusses the history of grief work in psychology, the purpose of sadness, how bereaved people do have pleasurable experiences and find comfort in memories, their natural resilience, prolonged grief, and experiences in different cultures. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
A leading expert in emotions research establishes a bold new paradigm for understanding grief.
About the Author
George A. Bonanno is professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University. His work has been featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and he has appeared on CNN and 20/20. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
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