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People who are grieving a major loss, such as the death of a spouse or a child, use different coping mechanisms to carry on with their lives. Psychologists have been able to track different approaches, which can reflect different clinical outcomes. One approach that is not usually successful is avoidant grief, a state in which people suffering from grief show marked, effortful, repeated, and often unsuccessful attempts to stop themselves from thinking about their loss. While researchers have shown that avoidant grievers consciously monitor their external environment in order to avoid reminders of their loss, no one has yet been able to show whether these grievers also monitor their mental state unconsciously, trying to block any thoughts of loss from rising to their conscious state.

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A new collaborative study between Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Irving Medical Center published online in SCAN: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience demonstrates that avoidant grievers do unconsciously monitor and block the contents of their mind-wandering, a discovery that could lead to more effective psychiatric treatment for bereaved people. The researchers are the first to show how this unconscious thought suppression occurs, by tracking ongoing processes of mental control as loss-related thoughts came in and out of conscious awareness during a 10-minute period of mind-wandering. (1)

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How can the mind block itself?

How can the brain control the brain?

How can you control you?

The more one tries to make sense of the cosmos, the more we realize that everything runs in circles. The snake will bite its own tail. The tide will rise again. Life will come after death. The morning will shine again.

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Believing. In God. In You.

And every passing minute, you will be constantly speaking.

To the only person that can hear you.

And the only thing you can hear is what you have already spoken.

Shhhh…