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Depois do temporal: um estudo psicodinâmico sobre a criança enlutada e seus pais [After the storm: a psychodynamic study of children in mourning and their parents]

ANDRADE, M. L. de. Depois do temporal: um estudo psicodinâmico sobre a criança enlutada e seus pais [After the storm: a psychodynamic study of children in mourning and their parents]. Master’s Dissertation – Instituto de Psicologia da USP, Campus Ribeirão Preto. Ribeirão Preto (SP), 2013. 

Available on: doi: <10.11606/D.59.2013.tde-12022014-084235>

There is an innate tendency to self-development in every human being; however the environment can hinder this development. Therefore, a good enough environment, which provides holding to render possible the creative spontaneous expression of children, is necessary for the existence of their emotional development. Losing a loved one is one of the events that most affect and threaten people’s well-being. For a child, this event and the sorrow that comes in its train are even more influential in their emotional development, especially when their family loses another child. Parents in mourning influence the way that children mourn and the emotional development of the latter. This study, by means of clinical-qualitative methodology, aimed at analyzing the experience of children who lost a sibling and the consequences of the loss for his or her development according to their parent’s grief. The research participants were three families that lost a child on account of a disease, and had another living child. The instruments used were interviews and the application of the Drawing-of-Family-and-Story Procedure (DF-E) according to its acronym in Portuguese – in the parents, and the application of the House-Tree-Person (HTP) and the Test of Fables in the children, in order to assess their psychodynamics as well as the family structure influenced by grief. The results were analyzed from a psychoanalytic Winnicott perspective, by means of the method of free material inspection, in addition to contributions contained in the manuals of the HTP and the Test of Fables. The results showed that the work of mourning made by the parents influences the way the children come to terms with their grief and undergo their emotional development. The loss of a sibling arouses feelings of sibling rivalry, which complicate their relationship with mourning. The consequences of the losses inhibit spontaneous, creative living and require the use of psychological defense mechanisms so that the family members can continue to live. The parents cannot meet the needs of their children and provide them with holding, because the feelings derived from the losses hamper their creative ability. As a consequence, they cannot adapt to the creativity of their children, thus the latter do not succeed in being spontaneous. Therefore, both are harmed as to experiencing transitionality. By means of being creative, living the outside reality can be possible, however hard it may be, providing ways to deal with difficulties and allowing the expression of the true self. Therefore, creativity is essential for the grief process; if the parents’ and children’s abilities to create are impaired, their only option is to deny the feelings derived from the experience of losing a loved one. Before the difficulty in expressing themselves and creating, the feelings derived from the losses, in these families, were denied and avoided, consequently, the children’s emotional development was harmed.

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