Friday, February 04, 2022

Five books for the grieving brain

Mary-Frances O'Connor is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, and the Director of Clinical Training. Her research focuses on the physiological correlates of emotion, in particular the wide range of physical and emotional responses during bereavement, including yearning and isolation. She believes that a clinical science approach toward the experience and mechanisms of grieving can improve interventions for prolonged grief disorder, newly included in the revised DSM-5.

O'Connor's new book is The Grieving Brain: The Surprising Science of How We Learn from Love and Loss.

At Lit Hub she tagged five titles for the grieving brain, including:
Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

Joan Didion’s story of not being able to throw out her husband’s shoes after he died because he would need them again may have been my first inkling that the brain can really be drawing on two different sources of information at the same time, even if they conflict. Through Didion’s honesty and courage about her own grief experience, she reveals the lived experience that led me to develop the gone-but-also-everlasting theory: when we bond with a loved one, that bond is encoded in the brain with the incontrovertible belief that our one-and-only will always be there. This conflicts with the memory of their funeral, with their absence at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As a neuroscientist, Didion’s brilliant writing made me understand magical thinking is not to be ignored as the ravings of grief but could reflect exactly how the brain processes the world.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Year of Magical Thinking is among Karolina Waclawiak's six books on loss and longing, Tara Westover's top four inspirational memoirs, Mark Whitaker's six favorite memoirs, Adam Haslett's five best deathless accounts of mourning, Douglas Kennedy's top ten books about grief, and Norris Church Mailer's five best memoirs. It is a book that made a difference to Samantha Bee.

--Marshal Zeringue