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On the last track, we discussed the physiology of grief as it relates to clients suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. I have found that there are three major physiological aspects of grief. They are the mind-body connection, acute stress reactions, and emotional triggers.
On this track, we will discuss Mind Sets of Grief. In my practice, I have found that there are three basic mind sets of grief. They are absolutist thinking, intolerance of mistakes, and denial of personal difficulties. As I describe these three mind sets of grief, you may want to use this track as a checklist for clients you may be treating.
Three Basic Mind
Sets of Grief
Tony’s absolutist thinking applied to others. To find out if he applied absolutist thinking to himself, I asked Tony if he put his feelings into extreme categories and assessed them according to extreme standards. Tony stated, “Yeah. I’m a total failure, if that’s what you mean. My son died and I was just six feet away the whole time.” Would you agree that Tony had applied absolutist thinking to himself as well as others.
I stated to Tony, “Judging yourself with the same “all or nothing” attitude will prevent you from making allowances for partial success or failure. Absolutist thinking is sometimes a characteristic of grieving clients, but is it possible for you to feel you can make mistakes and still have some successes.” Are you treating a client like Tony who has applied absolutist thinking to himself as well as others regarding the events surrounding his or her loss?
#2 Intolerance of Mistakes
Tony believed he had made a mistake that caused the needless death of his son, Robert. As a result, Tony had increased his feeling of intolerance for mistakes. Tony stated, “Sometimes even harmless mistakes make me relive Robert’s death. Last week my wife, Jenny, accidentally put salt in her coffee. I got so depressed and started crying. I know Jenny is getting really sick of my inability to cope.”
3-Step "Internal Shouting" Technique
#3 Denial of Personal Difficulties
Leo stated, “I’m the man in the family, so I can’t be seen as weak or incompetent.” Would you agree Leo could have benefited from sharing his personal difficulties with a family member? I stated to Leo, “How would Doris have wanted your problems handled?” Leo explained “I know Doris would have wanted me to get help. I guess I better tell my daughter. She’ll know what to do.” Have you had experience treating a client like Leo who is denying his or her personal difficulties resulting from a loss in order to appear competent and strong?
On this track we have discussed three basic mind sets of
grief. They are absolutist thinking, intolerance
of mistakes, and denial of personal difficulties.
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