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Luto

01/07/2022

Excertos do artigo da Aeon, sobre o tema. Excelente, como sempre. Não querem saber the SEO. Adoro.

O meu livro sobre o Luto parece refletir o que aqui vem descrito.

O que, naturalmente, me dá uma enorme satisfação.

(Não ponho itálicos porque as letras ficam demasiado pequenas)

“Adaptation is often seen as a return to the stable baseline of the time before a disruption.

Their death hasn’t really happened until many days, weeks and months pass. Only then does the brain begin to predict their absence more readily than their presence.

Learning might be the central task of the grieving brain, which has long based its calculations on the assumption that a loved one will be there.

The brain of a grieving person might rely on old information and old habits. From a brain-centred perspective, the way people feel, what they do and how long it takes to adapt after the death of a loved one might actually make more sense.

We need to keep track of those we have bonded with in order to return to each other again and again.

Permanent bond, which is encoded in the brain

The nucleus accumbens is a brain structure (in humans as well as in voles) that has a high concentration of receptors for oxytocin, the neuropeptide that cements our bonds, and receptors for dopamine, a neurotransmitter that facilitates learning, motivation and reward.

Once the bond has been encoded, the voles’ neurobiology is primed to release stress hormones if they are separated from a mate.

The expectation that someone we love will be there for us – whether it’s a caregiver, a romantic partner, a child, or someone else – is a fundamental part of our bond.

humans have a neurobiological stress response that unleashes a cascade of cardiovascular, hormonal and immune changes when social bonds are threatened. That distress can be a useful alarm signal, even critical for survival. It motivates us to seek out someone, or make enough of a fuss that they come to find us. But those alarm bells are useful only if the one you are seeking can ultimately be found. The death of a loved one is the rare experience in which that resolution is no longer possible.

Another element of the disorientation of grief is a sense that a part of who we are has died along with the person we have lost. Our sense of self is partly bound up with whom we love

The extent to which someone feels a loss of identity after the death of a loved one could help explain individual differences in adaptation. What does it mean to be a parent after your child has died? How does a widow act differently than a spouse? People with more severe grieving tend to have more difficulty describing their identity outside of who they were in relation to the person who died.

grieving is the manner in which someone processes the loss in their autobiographical memory, where past experiences with loved ones are deeply embedded. Autobiographical memory consists of two types of long-term memory: semantic and episodic. Episodic memory includes the ‘Remember the time…?’ kind of memories, with the details anchored in a specific time and space. Semantic memory is how you remember and understand the gist of things, and it includes general knowledge about the self, others and relationships. The knowledge stored in semantic memory helps you make sense of incoming information: you might predict the likely ending of a movie, for instance, based on what you know from watching many movies.

After the death, a bereaved person has two fundamental facts about the late loved one encoded in semantic memory: that the loved one is a part of them, and that any absence is just a temporary state. Yet there are also recent episodic memories of experiences such as saying goodbye, funeral rituals, mourning with others, waking up alone, setting one fewer place at the table. These mutually exclusive streams of well-established knowledge about the bond and memories of loss help to explain why it is normal for grieving people to see the face of the loved one in a crowd, to automatically reach for the phone to call them upon hearing good news, or to have the sense that they will walk through the door at any moment.

These experiences are not delusions, but rather the brain using well-founded predictions as it tries to make sense of the world as it is now. If your default belief is that a loved one’s absence is just a temporary state, then it makes sense to believe in a future in which it is possible to reunite. Yearning to be near the person who died (another common experience in grief) reflects an implicit problem-solving attempt: if it’s too painful to wait for their return, you must go out and find them. It takes time and experience for the brain to integrate new episodic memories of the person’s death with the semantic belief in their everlasting presence. Through experience, the brain can develop new predictions. They no longer come home from work at 6 o’clock; their clothes stop showing up in the laundry; the plants they used to water go untended. Eventually, the brain comes to more fully understand that the loved one’s absence is not a temporary state.

The mind maintains relatively stable models of both the external and internal worlds. Neuroscientists theorise that the brain builds these models from previous experiences. The brain then uses its knowledge of how the world works to predict the likelihood of future outcomes. As we move through the world, the brain registers whether an actual outcome was better or worse than expected via neural prediction error signals, which are used to update the mental model and inform future predictions. In learning from prediction error, we need a balance of flexibility and stability, so that our mental models can be updated as needed without being too easily swayed by limited information.

For someone who is grieving, actions (eg, seeking out a loved one) that once predictably resulted in reward (reunion) now end with the absence of reward, generating a negative prediction error (accompanied by frustration, distress and grief). A mental model that is too inflexible – adamantly deflecting new information about the absence of a loved one – will lead to the repetition of actions that no longer have the desired outcome. Repeated efforts by the brain to squeeze such new information into an unchanged old model could help explain why some bereaved people experience a longer trajectory of acute physical and emotional dysregulation.

In contrast, healthy adaptation after loss includes developing – as prediction errors accumulate over time – an updated mental model that comfortably accommodates both past and present. This balanced, adapted state is reflected in concepts such as ‘continuing bonds’ (maintaining an enduring sense of caring and connection with the person who died) and ‘integrated grief’ (grief that has found, as one author puts it, ‘a resting place in [one’s] heart and memories’). Neither the relationship nor the grief ever disappear, but they take a different form that can exist side by side with the recognition that one has to find a way to live in the world as it is now.

The ‘grieving as learning’ framework helps us understand how specific cognitive and neurobiological processes can shape the ways in which grieving people ‘relearn the world’”

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