Bereavement: A D.I.S.C. Analysis

By Dillenburger, Karola; Keenan, Mickey | Behavior and Social Issues, Fall 2005 | Go to article overview

Bereavement: A D.I.S.C. Analysis


Dillenburger, Karola, Keenan, Mickey, Behavior and Social Issues


ABSTRACT:

Theories of bereavement abound. The endeavour to understand this complex process has moved from intra-psychic explanations and stage theories to cognitive rationalizations and, most recently, process orientated explorations of bereavement. What has been missing in most of the literature to date is a detailed analysis of the context within which bereavement behaviours occur. This paper outlines a contingency analysis that includes consideration for the context of Death itself, Individual factors of the bereaved, Social factors, and influences of Cultural norms and systems (D.I.S.C.). The paper concludes by proposing that a comprehensive D.I.S.C. analysis might lead to whole person evidence-based practice in helping those who are experiencing bereavement.

KEYWORDS: bereavement, behavior analysis, trauma, death

It is a myth to think death is just for the old. Death is there from the very beginning. (Herman Feifel, in Cassingham, 2004).

Human reaction to bereavement and loss is widely discussed in the psychological literature. Generally speaking it is thought that, "The death of someone close is, for many, the most devastating experience in life. Most people find ways of adjusting to their loss; for others it may be too difficult without additional support."(Strang, 2001). Holmes and Rahe (1967) rated death of a spouse as the most stressful life event people experience. Commonly, a range of theories is employed in an effort to understand and explain the human experience of bereavement, loss, and separation. In this paper, the evolution of theories of bereavement is very briefly described and critically assessed in the context of newly emerging data from long-term studies of traumatic bereavement. Then a contingency analysis of the context and process of bereavement is offered based on recent thinking in behaviour analytic research. Finally, implications for working with the bereaved are explored.

EVOLVING THEORIES OF BEREAVEMENT

For the past decade or so, the controversy has grown about the utility of existing theories related to grief and mourning (Fulton, 2003). Before having a look at what the science of behaviour analysis can offer to the topic, a brief overview of the evolution of theories of bereavement to date is outlined. Given the amount of writing in the field such a brief visit obviously cannot cover all the ground. Therefore, some general trends are outlined. The writers and thinkers to whom we refer to are by no means exhaustive of the available literature. They are to be viewed merely as representative of main trends in the evolution of theories of bereavement.

In Western scientific literature Freud's (1963) ideas of an inevitable grieving process or "grief work" that serves to end emotional and internal attachments to a love object, and the necessarily detrimental effects of not going through the natural path of grieving, have had a massive and extremely long lasting influence on thinking in the area (Worden, 1991). For centuries bereavement and grieving was understood in terms of stages that the bereaved has to go through in order to adjust to the loss (Stroebe, 2002). Although in the main these stages were considered not to be static, often they were described as following a relatively uniform sequence of shock, denial, depression, anger, regaining equilibrium or homeostasis, and recovery or resolution. Intriguingly, there was no agreement on the number of stages that the bereaved person had to go through. For example, Rubin (1977) and Tatelbaum (1981) stated that there are three stages, while Conroy (1977) and Bowlby (1980) described four; Kuebler-Ross (1969) and Littlewood (1986) outlined five stages, and Calhoun, Selby, and King (1976) used six categories, while Lipinski (1980) depicted seven stages of grief (cf. Dillenburger, 1992).

In the early 1990's professionals who worked with the bereaved became increasingly dissatisfied with the restrictive nature of stage theories and fresh approaches were called for (Greally, 1993; Stroebe & Stroebe, 1991).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bereavement: A D.I.S.C. Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.