ISSUE Magazine

The Psychology of Loss by Ai Ming

The petty speak of loss as being the largest evil, while an amateur may see a loss as the end of the world. The wise, they speak of loss as a gift from the universe. Loss for me, as a psych-commerce undergraduate brainwashed with numerous psychological theories and scientific findings, it amounts to nothing. We’ve got everything covered, almost.

In psychology, we love loss. If we hear someone mention that she is feeling lost, we’ll leap right in to ask “Do you want to talk about it?” We speak of five stages of grief used to deal with loss. We have myriads of different therapies tailored to fit different kinds of losses. We prescribe medicines. We have faith in a certain science and technology that can help us help you overcome loss.

A large number of psychological experiments were performed on patients with brain lesions, those who had lost parts of their brain. This is one of the fundamental ways we have learned about the functions played by various brain structures. I find peace in the fact that, at least there was some good that came out of this somewhat invasive method. One of the most quoted case studies is Phineas Gage. He survived an accident, in which his head was pierced by a large iron rod. A bulk of his brain was damaged and after the incident, his friends no longer recognized him – his personality had been altered, he had come out as a different person.

It now occurs to me that there are a lot of times in life when there is no need to literally lose a part of the brain, in order to see a change in a person. Those who have had to go through emotional loss, which can be no less dramatic. For instance, when someone has lost a partner,it could almost be described by the person as having lost an essential organ. The loss may not have been strictly physical, but its still a vivid feeling.

We have devised probable explanations for loss in its many forms, as I said. Still, there is no immediate and all-resolving cure. As much as academics have learned and researched the topic, they are unable to undermine the importance of time.

While psychologists are trained to sense the root from where they can help with the healing process, time is always part of it. At the end of the day, there is no other person who is able to do the patching work for you. You, as an emotional being, are changed the minute you own up to a loss. I say, own up to it, denial is a toxic thing. There is nothing wrong with admitting to a loss. This is how we move on, to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

All I want to add is, loss is not scary to begin with. It could be a myth we created, the media created. It could actually be nothing. Loss is neither inherently good nor bad. It is what a person makes out of “loss” that gives it meaning. I shall not start on the big discovery from losing something, because that is something I have to reserve for next time.

Don’t talk to me about loss, but tell me about what it has meant to you and what you may have got out of it. Then, my friend, you and I are officially in business.

This entry was written by Ai Ming and published on 01/06/2012 at 00:03. It’s filed under Ai Ming, Essays, ISSUE1, Writings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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