Sorrow: A Therapist's Reflection on the Inevitable and the Unknowable


  • Kaethe Weingarten

    Corresponding author
    1. The Witnessing Project, Newton, MA
    • Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA
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  • This essay is based on a talk given as the 3rd Annual Stokes Endowment Lecture at the George Washington University Medical Center, April 12, 2012.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Kaethe Weingarten, Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, 82 Homer Street, Cambridge, MA 02459. E-mail:


People who live with a painful gap between who they have been and who they are now, of who they dreamt themselves to be and who they still long to be, are living with chronic sorrow. Chronic sorrow is a normal, nonpathological state of pervasive, continuing, periodic, and resurgent sadness related to the ongoing losses associated with illness and disability, in this case not loss of an other, but loss of self (Roos, 2002). Focusing on the lives of four women, one of whom committed suicide, I explore the macroprocesses that invade the experience of even so personal an experience as self-loss. The role of the therapist is made transparent through anecdotes and by discussing implications for clinical practice.


那些过往生活和现在生活以及曾经梦想和当下梦想有痛苦差距的人生活在长期悲伤之中。长期悲伤是普遍、持续、周期性复发的悲伤,是一种正常的非病理学状态,与疾病或残障导致的持续失落相关,但在这里,并非失去别人,而是自己(Roos, 2002)。本文作者通过聚焦四个女人的生活(其中一个自杀),探索了侵入如自我失去这般个人经历的宏观过程。治疗师的作用通过轶事和探讨临床实践意义而明了


Las personas que viven con una brecha dolorosa entre quiénes han sido y quiénes son ahora, entre quiénes soñaron ser y quiénes aún anhelan ser, están viviendo con pena crónica. La pena crónica es un estado normal no patológico de tristeza dominante, continua, periódica y resurgente relacionada con las pérdidas permanentes asociadas con las enfermedades y las discapacidades, en este caso no la pérdida de otro sino la pérdida de uno mismo (Roos, 2002). Centrándome en la vida de cuatro mujeres, una de las cuales se suicidó, analizo los macroprocesos que invaden la experiencia tan personal de la pérdida de uno mismo. El papel del terapeuta se hace visible a través de anécdotas y del debate de las implicancias para la práctica clínica.