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Teachers College, Columbia University
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Bonanno Receives Grant to Study Prolonged Grief

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George Bonanno, Professor of Psychology and Education

George Bonanno, Professor of Psychology and Education

The death of a spouse is devastating by any measure, but most people who experience it regain their ability to function normally and derive some measure of enjoyment from life.  However, some 10 to 15 percent of people who lose a husband or wife suffer prolonged, paralyzing grief that can go on for several years or longer. 

Now George Bonanno, Professor of Psychology and Education, and his students have received a grant of just under $3 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to learn more about the factors that predict prolonged grief (PG) and who will recover from it, and to describe the impact of suffering from PG. 

“Not only would answering these questions advance scientific knowledge of grief reactions, it would contribute greatly to the development of effective interventions for PG,” said Bonanno, who chairs TC’s Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology.

The primary objective of Bonanno’s new study – which represents the second phase of a broader study of PG reactions – is to identify patterns of emotion and emotion-related brain activity as early predictors of PG and as diagnostic markers of PG-related effects. The study will recruit adults ages 25-65 in North America who have lost a spouse in the past three to four months and track them over a 25-month period, during which they will complete a battery of questionnaires and participate in a series of interviews and experimental and neuropsychological procedures.

Bonanno is the author of The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss.


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