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The sentimental shock: definition, causes, symptoms and phases

The sentimental shock: definition, causes, symptoms and phases

January 17, 2023

It is said that Queen Victoria of England spent months sobbing continuously and mourning the death of her husband, Prince Albert . Such was the dismay of the queen that the palace ended up becoming her prison and she dressed in mourning for the rest of her days.

Although in the Victorian era they were not aware of it, the queen suffered what is now called sentimental shock. A state of despair and anguish that the person suffers after a love break, or after the loss of the loved one. This state consists of different phases, with a beginning and an end, and that serve the person to recover from this sentimental break.

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What is sentimental shock?

The sentimental shock occurs after a love break, and is defined because the person experiences a state of dullness or psychological paralysis which can be accompanied by a feeling of psychological disorientation and emptiness .

It is necessary to clarify that sentimental shock is not considered a disorder by itself, but a natural phenomenon, with a predictable course of symptoms, and with well-defined phases and stages for which there is a beginning and an end.

Even though each person experiences emotional shock in a different way, it is usual that the first crisis or the first break is lived in a much more traumatic way , since the person does not yet have the necessary tools or mechanisms to face this situation.

Likewise, another tendency that is repeated in most people is that the degree of force of the sentimental shock is directly proportional to the intensity of the commitment that the relationship possessed. The longer you have been with a person and the deeper the commitment, the more time it will take to overcome the break.

Can you overcome emotional trauma?

Usually, most people manage to overcome the effects of emotional shock during the first year after the break. However, it is natural to find people to whom this recovery takes a little more time, depending on the good personal functioning.

Emotional shock is a normal, and even healthy process, which does not become pathological unless the person tries to repress it or compensate for it through denial or excess behavior. such as drug use or alcohol abuse.

For a successful overcoming of the break it is necessary to face the pain and move forward with it, experience the experience of emotional shock, going through its different phases and understanding each of its peculiarities.

Failure to recognize and manifest emotional distress can severely damage a person's psychological health. It has been shown that the effects of a badly resolved emotional shock, in addition to harming emotional health, have multiple consequences on the organism.

A feeling of constant grief, depression or depression and disappointment can weaken the person's immune system, making him more susceptible to physical illness.

Therefore, although unpleasant and painful, sentimental shock is a sign of health and the only way to overcome a love break .


Although, as mentioned above, emotional shock can not be considered a disorder or a psychiatric illness, it does present a common symptomatology in most people who suffer from it. Among the symptoms that can be found are:

  • Sickness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Crying attacks
  • Deep feeling of sadness or depression
  • Insomnia or problems falling asleep
  • Memory losses
  • Lack of energy
  • Need to be secluded
  • Feeling of lack of control over life
  • Promiscuity
  • Vacuum sensation
  • Intensification of feelings
  • Sensation of anguish at the idea of ​​staying alone

As the person begins to understand the dynamics of the emotional shock experience, progressively acquire the skills that will help control their feelings and fears.

Likewise, the fact of knowing the different stages of the process and that they have both a beginning and an end, exerts a reassuring effect on the person .

The six stages of sentimental shock

As discussed above, the symptoms of emotional shock develop according to a pre-established pattern of six stages: shock, grief, blame adjudication, resignation, reconstruction and resolution .

The rhythm according to which a person slips from one stage to another is called the time of affective change, and varies greatly from one person to another. Some people experience the different stages in a very fast way while others do it very slowly.

Also, the intensity of the symptoms will decrease as the person goes through the different stages. Usually, greater distress is experienced in the stages of shock, grief and adjudication of guilt.

Finally, and before going on to explain the different stages, it is necessary to point out that, although there are common patterns, the experimentation of sentimental shock does not have to be linear . The person can go forward and backward in the different stages according to the coping mechanisms that he has.

1. Shock

In the first stage, called shock, the person experiences an imminent sensation of psychological paralysis, accompanied by disorientation and disbelief .

In very extreme cases the person may feel unable to perform basic actions such as eating or sleeping, and may even forget what happened during this phase.

The shock stage serves as an insulator of the impact that causes a loss or rupture, and its duration is usually between a day and a month, but rarely extends more in time.

2. Penalty

During this stage of grief, the person not only regrets the loss of a person, also regrets for all the time they shared and all the experiences lived .

This grief can turn into feelings of anger and irritation. The person may feel moody or angry, due to frustration and the perception that no person is able to understand what they feel.

It is usual that when the person is in this stage feels the need to communicate with the other, to maintain some kind of contact, however unreal it may be. Attempts that, as a rule, are more harmful than beneficial.

3. Adjudication of the fault

When the feeling of grief is reduced, the person feels the need to know what happened to the relationship . Therefore emerges urgency to analyze everything that has happened throughout the relationship, looking for guilty both in oneself and in others.

In addition, it is usual to analyze the different situations that the couple has lived to know what they would have done to avoid it, or else analyze it to blame the other.

4. Resignation

Also known as the goodbye stage This is the moment in which the person is able to accept that the other is no longer in his life. It is time to accept that the relationship is over, separate completely from the other person and recover the energy.

It is the stage in which people usually spend more time, since on the one hand they feel relieved to be able to overcome the rupture, however they also experience feelings of sorrow for having to leave the relationship completely.

5. Reconstruction

At this moment the person notices that he has more happy moments than sad moments , he manages to recover his concentration and feels that his life belongs to him again.

Likewise, he feels ready to go out and meet other people and begins to focus more on his own needs than on thoughts about the past.

To complete this stage satisfactorily they will need to rebuild their strength, develop their self-esteem and self-confidence.

6. Resolution

With the resolution begins the beginning of a new life cycle. The person has managed to resolve the conflict since the beginning of the shock and his life is once again on track with a new direction. At this moment the person has the confidence necessary to create their own well-being .

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