A qualitative study of heartbreak

Student thesis: Master programme thesis

  • Maria Louise Pedersen
6. term, Psychology, Bachelor (Bachelor Programme)
This research is inspired by the creation of heartbreak griefing groups in Denmark, that got recognised by Danish media and gained public attention in 2018. Ayse Dudu Tepe, the founder of the first group explains, that the phenomenon of heartbreak is not being taken seriously enough and requires more recognition and understanding. Dr Guy Winch, a psychologist focusing on the topic of heartbreak seems to confirm this stance, and furthermore, explains that if not processed correctly, heartbreak can lead to aggravated emotional pain, delayed recovery and in worst cases, damage to mental health. This study is therefore aiming to create a better understanding of, and shed light on heartbreak as a phenomenon from a psychological perspective, using qualitative methods, the understanding of grief as a foundation, and a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach. Academic literature was combined with primary qualitative data based on interviews with two men, who both have been abandoned by their partners and have consequently experienced serious emotional pain. The Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis method have been used and lead to identification of four common themes: Not just a feeling, but many feelings; Going from being two to being one; Being out of balance; and Having to live without a loved one. The results showed, that heartbreak and grief have far more similarities than differences, and therefore, the grief theory was significantly helpful in relation to create an understanding of the phenomena. In addition, it was also found, that heartbreak can be experienced as grief or can include feelings of grief. Nonetheless, it is also shown, that heartbreak contains its own separate elements, that differs from the phenomenon of grief. Heartbreak can result in relatively serious consequences, especially when not recognised by the self and by the outside world. Among others, there is a considerable risk of developing depression. Furthermore, there are indications, that heartbreak can lead to personality changes, long-term reduced mood and in some cases the loss of desire and capacity for new romantic relationships, which can affect the individual’s wellbeing. This research concludes, that heartbreak can be understood as a reaction to loss, that similarly to grief, can result in a wide range of emotional, behavioural, cognitive and somatic symptoms. Furthermore, it should be dealt with, with the same caution, understanding and recognition as grief, as the present study shows, that the phenomenon may contain the same symptoms, and can maybe be even more existentialistic, if the heartbreak is caused by being abandoned. The study points out, that heartbreak should be taken seriously and should be acknowledged, as initially postulated by Tepe and Dr Winch, especially because people in heartbreak can be in need of a help. Hence it is important, that they feel justified in doing so.
LanguageDanish
Publication date31 May 2020
Number of pages80
ID: 304094582