For all of us, coping with the death of a loved one is intensely traumatic. For sufferers of "complicated" grief, however, the trauma itself never seems to die; rather than dissipating over time, it becomes a vicious attachment cycle that erodes the brain's ability to function normally. In her interview with Big Think, psychiatrist Dr. Katherine Shear of Columbia University drew on her pioneering research on complicated grief to explain how this devastating cycle works, and how it can be broken.

During her thoughtful and candid conversation, Dr. Shear discussed some of her own prior experiences with bereavement and how they have informed her work. Finally, Dr. Shear revisited the work of past grief experts, including Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Freud himself, and explained what has and has not survived of their once-revolutionary ideas.