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OBVI: Adjusting to Vision Loss - Phase Two: Shock and Denial

To react to vision loss with shock is healthy and normal. It shields the individual from being suddenly overwhelmed by the full impact of trauma.

This phase can be expressed as, "This is not happening to me," or by what has been described as a "mental numbness." This can also be followed by the belief that an unrealistic miracle, a medical procedure, or some new scientific discovery will restore vision.

"Hope for recovery is a very important therapeutic tool in all other aspects of medicine, but can be a major deterrent to the adjustment to blindness process." (Cholden, 23)

We may see individuals in this phase who are looking for something that will allow them to see again.

The Role of Professionals

To interact with individuals in this phase, the OBVI staff may simply make themselves available to provide physical comfort, emotional support, and understanding.

Patiently listening and answering questions will help. Information should be factual and stated in terms the individual will understand. Though they attempt not to take away hope, OBVI staff will inform the person experiencing a vision loss to expect to encounter a great deal of frustration during this phase.

Phase Three: Mourning and Withdrawal
Go Back

Cholden, Louis. A Psychiatrist Works with Blindness; Selected Papers. New York: American Foundation for the Blind, 1958. Print.

Last revised January 5, 2023