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‘Sense of presence’ experiences in bereavement and their relationship to mental health: A critical examination of a continuing controversy

Steffen, E and Coyle, A (2012) ‘Sense of presence’ experiences in bereavement and their relationship to mental health: A critical examination of a continuing controversy In: Mental Health and Anomalous Experience. Psychology Research Progress (3). Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY, 33 - 56. ISBN 1621003507

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Abstract

The experience of sensing the presence of the deceased is a common occurrence following bereavement. Although this experience tends to be reported as positive and meaningful by perceivers, for most of the twentieth century it has been described in pathologising terms in the bereavement literature. Recent decades have seen the publication of numerous studies that point to normality of this experience and its potential benefits for the bereaved perceivers' wellbeing. However, there is an ongoing debate within bereavement scholarship regarding the nature and healthiness of this experience. This chapter critically examines the extant literature concerning 'sense of presence' experiences and draws attention to the diversity of definitions and conceptualisations within which this experience can be interpreted. Research from a variety of perspectives, including attachment theory and the continuing bonds perspective, is discussed and emerging evidence is reported which suggests that those who can make sense of their experience within culturally-sanctioned (spiritual) conceptual frameworks enjoy greater benefits as a result. The discussion then focuses on meaning-making concerns with regard to this phenomenon and concludes with relevant practice recommendations.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of a book chapter published as Steffen E, Coyle A (2012). 'Sense of presence’ experiences in bereavement and their relationship to mental health: A critical examination of a continuing controversy In Mental Health and Anomalous Experience. Editors: Murray C. 33-56. Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, NY 01 Apr 2012. Available online at: https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=28778
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Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2012 15:57
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2013 19:30
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/600588

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