Boelen, P. A., & Huntjens, R. J. C. (2008). Intrusive images in grief: An exploratory study . Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 15, 217-226.


The relevance of intrusive mental imagery to the understanding and treatment of psychological disorders is increasingly acknowledged. Little research has been done on intrusive imagery in grief. Using a sample of 131 mourners, recruited from professional and lay mental health care workers, the current study examined the frequency and correlates of four specific intrusive images: (a) positive intrusive memories of the lost person, (b) intrusive images of the death-event, (c) reenactment fantasies, and (d) negative images of the future. Findings revealed that these intrusions were common and that the occurrence of these intrusions hardly varied across subgroups of mourners. All four intrusions were correlated with the severity of complicated grief symptoms and intrusions (b), (c), and (d) were also correlated with the severity of symptoms of depression and anxiety. Findings have potential theoretical and clinical implications and indicate that a more comprehensive study of intrusions among bereaved people is warranted.