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This article argues for the development of an interdisciplinary psychology of loss that is focused on people's pervading commonsense experience and recognition of loss in their own and others' lives. This field may be defined as broader than related fields such as traumatology, thanatology, and stress and coping. The psychology of loss focuses on the perception of major loss deriving from events such as death and divorce, but also on the perception of major loss in connection with such diverse phenomena as loss of employment, loss of bodily functioning, and being the target of violence or prejudice, including genocide. An important research topic for this field concerns people's stories of how major losses are interrelated in their lives. It is argued that perceived loss is a critical phenomenal state that must be dealt with in adaptation to most significant stressors.
Psychological Science © 1998 Association for Psychological Science