Physical And Psychological Disorders

Deceased parents can engender many ramifications, inducing physical and psychological impairments on the children. Such an event can be considered traumatic, as it brings lifelong effects to people around the deceased. Although death is normal for every human, those who are left behind, especially children and loved one, would need to deal with many underlying psychological processes in order to maintain pre-trauma functions. Depending on each individual, a child of the deceased parent would mourn and bereave for an uncertain period of time.

This phenomenon is also known as grief, encompassing deep sorrow for people who died. Seeing that the event of death is a potential traumatic event (PTE), psychologists and researchers would like to delve deeply into some post-trauma’s psychological mechanisms or processes that can possibly explain how the witnesses of death can recuperate their psychological states.

One research intended to investigate resilience and psychological flexibility in parentally bereaved college students and they found several implications between bereavement and resilience.

Traditional college students, typically aged 18-to-25 years old, remains actively developing. The physical, psychological, and mental development has been ongoing; hence, parentally bereaved college students are in disadvantaged positions. The empirical research article suggested their loss of parents can lead to unsecured social networks, diminished work performance, and an indifferent attitude toward higher educations. Traditional college students are also at their developmental stage of emerging adults, having tendencies to explore and establish interests in many aspects like intimate relationships and educations. Primarily because parents or parental figures tend to enact as guidance to college students, the bereaved students can go astray in their academic and vocational pathways.

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One common approach the grievers utilize is Experiential Avoidance (EA), highlighting their intentions to falsely and inaccurately alternate both internal and external stimuli. Internal stimuli involve cognitions, affects, and physiological sensation while external stimuli primarily refer to situations and environments. EA often exacerbates the grieving experiences and bereavement difficulties, prompting grievers to remain in mournfully depressive states and avoid the reality. As their depressive affection continue, their thoughts can inaccurately lead them to envision the survival of the deceased, as if they have never experienced death. Moreover, their avoidance behaviors provoke them from going to places and engaging in the interaction that might reflect the reality that their parents are no longer living. While EA is a typical reaction for early grievers, prolonged EA can push grievers into some effective and cognitive long-term impairments.

Knowing the devastating consequences that might occur on parentally bereaved college students, Murrell et al., (2018) hypothesized several contingencies pertaining to parentally bereaved college students. Their hypotheses included the correlation between EA and bereavement difficulties, negative correlation between values and bereavement difficulties, and positive correlation across behaviors consistently corresponding to one’s values and resiliency, but negatively correlated to EA. Following these hypotheses, Murrell et al., (2018) used various assessments to collect data concerning demographics, EA, values, resiliency, and bereavement experiences, like the demographic questionnaire, avoidance and fusion questionnaire for youth (AFQ-Y), valued living questionnaire (VLQ), Connor-Davidson resiliency scale (CD-RISC), and bereavement experience questionnaire (BEQ-24), respectively.

Findings from the data and statistical analyses entailed several supported hypotheses. Regression analysis was done to test the predictability of EA on bereavement difficulties and results showed a significant relationship. Following EA, a parentally bereaved college student who placed importance or values on their behaviors and thoughts had a significant correlation with bereavement difficulties. In other words, having values in life indicated negative associations with EA while EA was positively related to bereavement difficulties. However, values did not have significant effects in directly predicting bereavement difficulties. Further results demonstrated a non-significant relationship between consistent values and avoidance, yet consistent values can significantly predict resiliency. Then, students who consistently uphold and fulfill their values have no exemptions from behaving avoidantly, though, are able to retain some extents of resiliency.

Of clinical and practical relevance, Murrell’s et al., (2018) work has uncovered various implications. In terms of the nature of resilience, Murrell’s et al., (2018) concluded that it is highly related to recovery from bereavement difficulties. Knowing resilience helps traumatized individuals to attain their pre-trauma psychological states, psychological researchers and practitioners then implement resilience’s protective factors on trauma-clients. In essence, resilience not only provides recovery for traumatic clients but also strengthen their mental developments and functions and psychological immune systems so that they are not easily sabotaged in encounters of future adversities or PTEs. Thus, providing resilience training programs in clinical settings certainly benefits traumatic clients.

Moreover, Murrell’s (2018) research supported previously theories such that avoidance behaviors, resembling the first stage of the grief process – denial, tend to be inevitable and occur in the beginning stage of bereavements. Further, having values can implicitly be interpreted as meaning making, which contains several extents. EA fosters avoidance behaviors and such behaviors might have already impeded clients’ understanding of their loss; hence, clinical and counseling psychologists should encourage bereaved clients, particularly parentally bereaved college students, to accept the reality. In other words, meaning making is to rationalize the existence of their experienced PTEs in addition to perceiving the reality. Followed by the rationalization, meaning making can also reduce bereavement difficulties.

In the context of parentally bereaved college students, results showed that some students did not experience any grieving symptoms, indicating that they might have previously developed an extent of resiliency. Perhaps they have undergone many severe adversities or PTEs, therefore they do not react to their parents’ demises as intense as others. An alternative explanation for this phenomenon is that human has congenital resilience, suggesting that resilience is inherited. Contemporary developmental psychologists who study resilience have proposed that infant as young as six-months-old can exhibit resilient behaviors. For instance, an infant who experiences the absence of their parents from their vision could have cried for the entire day. However, some infants can show an adaptive response to remain quiet after a brief period of tantrums. Then, those bereaved college students could have born with higher levels of resiliency than those who fall into the vicious cognitions of EA.

Although many significant relationships were found in Murrell’s et al., (2018) study, many drawbacks of the research protocols were present. Starting at their participants’ selection, the researchers exclusively recruited participants from an university located at south central region of the United State. Although their targeted subjects were parentally bereaved college student, students coming from the same university came with huge selection biases. This lack of diversity among the participants did not have much representativeness. Moreover, this research comprised a small sample size, inducing higher chances of spurious significant differences and important yet omitted differences.

Subsequently, Murrell et al. (2018) facilitated cross-sectional research design, an improper approach to this study. Cross-sectional research design can only measure participants’ resiliency and bereavement levels at one time, which did not explain how and why resilience was advocated. Without second attempt to access the participants’ altitude of resiliency and intensity of bereavement issues, researchers (Murrell et al., 2018) made no inference pertaining to the mechanisms of those two psychological factors. While cross-sectional research design allowed researchers to collect huge and various amount of information from the targeted participants conveniently, the results plausibly have carried misrepresentation and misinformation effects.

Given that this research participants were college students , ranging in age of 18-43 (M = 22), researchers  did not consider the developmental impacts of emerging adulthood had upon the measures of resiliency, values, and bereavement issues. This period of developmental stage is known for emerging adults to explore, establish, and consolidate their worldviews, future careers, and identities through considerable amount of experimentations and changes. Therefore, it was not shocking if those participants had a high regards on values, seeing that they had undergone various possibilities’ search. They could be in the progress of solidifying their perspectives, enhancing their consistencies to their beliefs or values. As a result, the lifespan of emerging adulthood could become a confounding variable to the statistical analyses.

Besides the possible of confounding variables in the data, another impactful issue of their study is their use of data analyses. Murrell et al. (2018) primarily used correlation and regression statistical analyses for evaluating and interpreting the data. One disadvantage of such statistical operation was the inability to provide causal explanations. Although they insisted on the importance of understanding the underlying process of resilience (Murrell et al., 2018), their statistical analyses failed to provide further discussion about it. In order to achieve that purpose, a controlled experiment would be necessary for inferring generalizations.

For future direction in studying resilience, research design ought to be either prospective (cohort) or longitudinal. Several benefits of utilizing such a research design include the reduction in survivor bias, the ability to investigate participants’ psychological factors in various time frames, and the potential to draw temporality relationships. At the same time, it allows researchers to scrutinize the interplay among variables. More importantly, if researchers interest in studying resilience in parentally bereaved college students, then it becomes necessary to examine the latent influences of the lifespan of emerging adulthood thereby conducting an objective, representative, and scientific research

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Physical And Psychological Disorders. (2021, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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