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November 1967

Children's Reactions to Bereavement: Adult Confusions and Misperceptions

Author Affiliations

Ann Arbor, Mich
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(5):593-597. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730290081010

THIS REPORT was conceived during the course of a study of the response to President Kennedy's assassination involving children hospitalized at Children's Psychiatric Hospital, University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Mich. The staff's conflicting perceptions of the children's reactions to the tragic event were strikingly evident. Torn between their own needs and those of the children, the staff was confused about the therapeutically appropriate means of exposing the children to the details of the assassination, the shooting of the accused assassin, and the funeral. Even experienced personnel, ordinarily intuitively responsive to the children's needs, were markedly uncertain about the handling of children at that time. Thus, the focus of investigation shifted from study of the reactions of the children to the exploration of conflicting staff perceptions and attitudes. This report of the staff's reactions is intended as a limited contribution to the accumulation

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