Sentimental Shock: Definition, Causes, Symptoms And Phases

woman with emotional shock

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

Although they were not aware of it in Victorian times, the queen suffered from what is currently called sentimental shock. A state of hopelessness and anguish that the person suffers after a breakup, or after the loss of a loved one. This state consists of different phases, with a beginning and an end, and which help the person recover from said sentimental breakup.

What is sentimental shock?

Sentimental shock occurs after a love breakup, and is defined because The person experiences a state of psychological dullness or paralysis which may be accompanied by a feeling of psychological disorientation and emptiness

It is necessary to clarify that emotional shock is not considered a disorder in itself, but rather 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.

Although each person experiences emotional shock in a different way, It is common for the first crisis or first breakup to be experienced in a much more traumatic way since the person does not yet have the necessary tools or mechanisms to deal with said situation.

Likewise, another trend that is repeated in most people is that the degree of strength of the sentimental shock is directly proportional to the intensity of the commitment that the relationship had. The longer you have been with a person and the deeper the commitment, the longer it will take to get over the breakup.

Can you overcome emotional trauma?

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

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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 behaviors of denial or excess. such as drug use or alcohol abuse.

To successfully overcome the breakup, it is necessary to face the pain and move forward with it, experiencing the experience of emotional shock, going through its different phases and understanding each of its peculiarities.

Failure to recognize and express emotional distress can seriously damage a person’s psychological health. It has been shown that the effects of a poorly resolved emotional shock, in addition to damaging emotional health, have multiple consequences on the body.

A constant feeling of grief, depression or despondency and disappointment can weaken a person’s immune system, making them more susceptible to contracting a physical illness.

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


Although, as mentioned above, emotional shock cannot be considered a psychiatric disorder or illness, it does present common symptoms in the majority of people who suffer from it. Symptoms that may be found include:

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

In addition, Knowing the different stages of the process and that they have both a beginning and an end, has a calming effect on the person

The six stages of sentimental shock

As mentioned above, The symptoms of emotional shock develop according to a pre-established pattern of six stages: shock, grief, blame allocation, resignation, reconstruction and resolution

The rate at which a person slides from one stage to another is called the time of affective change, and it varies greatly from one person to another. Some people experience the different stages very quickly while others do so very slowly.

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Likewise, the intensity of the symptoms will decrease as the person goes through the different stages. Typically, greater distress is experienced in the stages of shock, grief, and blame.

Finally, and before going on to explain the different stages, It is necessary to point out that, although there are common patterns, the experience of sentimental shock does not have to be linear The person can advance and regress in the different stages depending on the coping mechanisms they have.


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 from the impact caused by a loss or breakup, and its duration is usually between a day and a month, but rarely lasts longer.

2. Grief

During this stage of grief, The person not only grieves the loss of a person, they also grieve for all the time they shared and all the experiences they had

This grief can turn into feelings of anger and irritation. The person may feel in a bad mood or angry, due to frustration and the perception that no one is capable of understanding what he or she feels.

It is common that when the person is in this stage they feel the need to communicate with the other, to maintain some type of contact, no matter how unreal it may be. Attempts that, as a rule, are more harmful than beneficial.

3. Assignment of blame

When the feeling of sorrow is reduced, The person feels the need to know what has happened to the relationship Therefore, there is an urgency to analyze everything that has happened throughout the relationship, looking for culprits both in oneself and in others.

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Furthermore, it is common to analyze the different situations that the couple has experienced to know what they would have done to avoid it, or on the contrary, to 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 their life. It is time to accept that the relationship is over, completely separate from the other person and regain energy.

It is the stage in which people usually spend the most time, since on the one hand they feel relieved at being able to get over the breakup, however they also experience feelings of sadness at having to leave the relationship completely.

5. Reconstruction

At this moment the person notices that they have more happy moments than sad ones he manages to regain concentration and feels that his life belongs to him again.

You also feel ready to go out and meet other people and begin to focus more on your own needs than on thoughts about the past.

To successfully complete this stage you will need to rebuild your strength, develop your self-love 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 back on track with a new direction. At this moment the person has the confidence necessary to create their own well-being