The science of grief and grieving: new insights on trajectories of grieving and prolonged grief disorder

Hugo Critchley, Mary-Frances O'Connor, Kelly Norwood, A A A Manik Djelantik

75 minutes


July 2023

Congress webinar 2023


Although bereavement affects all of humanity, the loss of a loved one is characteristically unsettling. Grieving can follow distinct trajectories that may vary from expectation of a stereotypical sequence of psychological reactions and adaptations. Complicated or prolonged grief represents a psychiatric disorder in which grief symptoms remain severe and impairing. This symposium addresses this often-neglected topic. We draw together experts on the science of grief and grieving to provide an overview of advances in understanding grief and prolonged grief disorder.

Dr Mary-Frances O’Connor will provide and integrative view of clinical psychology and cognitive neuroscience, describing the neurobiology of personal loss, absence and the process of updating and learning following loss. Dr O’Connor will describe how empirical research can define prolonged grief disorder and how targeted psychotherapy can help this disabling condition. Professor Gerard Leavey will present insights from the study of sudden bereavement following suicide and the application of social psychiatric methods to understanding grief in relation to COVID-19. Dr Manik Djelantik will present her leading research that has tracked the courses of prolonged grief, post-traumatic stress and depression, using latent trajectory analysis to characterise the evolution of responses to bereavement and relationship to diagnosable grief disorders.

This session aims to provide you with:

- Updated knowledge on the expression and neurobiology of adaptive responses to bereavement.

- Understanding of the expression of bereavement in specific contexts of suicide and COVID-19.

- Insight into the expression, recognition and management of prolonged grief disorder.


Chair: Hugo Critchley, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, United Kingdom

Mary-Frances O'Connor, University of Arizona, Tucson, USA

Kelly Norwood, Ulster University

A A A Manik Djelantik, University of Utrecht, Netherlands

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