Acute bereavement, threatened loss, ego defenses and adrenocortical function

Psychother Psychosom. 1985;44(3):151-9. doi: 10.1159/000287907.


In this study of 43 acutely bereaved widows and widowers and a comparison group of 24 nonbereaved married persons who experienced critical illness in a spouse, we found no evidence of higher levels of affective arousal, higher levels of adrenocortical activity, less effective ego defenses, or higher levels of defensive work among bereaved persons by comparison with nonbereaved persons. Furthermore, we failed to observe expected relationships between ego defensive function and adrenocortical activity among either bereaved or nonbereaved persons. These observations are consistent with one previous study of bereaved parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arousal
  • Death
  • Defense Mechanisms*
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Single Person / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Hydrocortisone