Broken Hearts Or Broken Bonds: Love And Death In Historical Perspective

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American Psychologist


Psychological theories and practices frequently neglect the extent to which their subject matter is historically and culturally defined. This issue is explored in the context of theories and therapies related to bereavement. Contemporary orientations emphasize the importance of breaking bonds with the deceased and the return of survivors to autonomous lifestyles. Placing this orientation in cultural and historical context reveals that it is largely a product of a modernist worldview. Within the romanticist ethos of the preceding century, such breaking of bonds would destroy one's identity and the meaning of life. In light of contemporary variations in subcultural meanings and values, a postmodern view is suggested in which reflexive responsibility is focal.