The Reverend Thomas G. Long, of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, recently wrote an interesting article in the journal Christian Century. “Theologians had been raising objections to Kubler-Ross’s ideas for a long time. The idea that people sail across the stygian stream towards some tranquil stage of acceptance is not an empirical observation. It is bad theology, a product of Kubler-Ross’s smuggled Neoplatonism, which stands in tension with Christian eschatology and the biblical concept of death as the final enemy.”
Category Archives: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
A five-page adaptation from The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss, has just been published in the current issue of Time Magazine.
“New Ways To Think About Grief,” Time Magazine, January 24, 2011
Clinicians have been arguing whether grief is an illness for decades. The latest round in the debate is over whether what’s known as the “grief exclusion” should be taken out of the criterion for major depression in DSM-5, the upcoming edition of the diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals. In the current edition, the grief exclusion states that someone who was bereaved within the last two months is not eligible for a diagnosis of major depression. (Bereavement also makes an appearance as a “V code” in the section in the back of the manual for disorders that are not reimburseable by insurance.) In an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Allen Frances, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University who has become a vocal critic of DSM-5, warned that eliminating the grief exclusion would lead to the ”wholesale medicalization of normal emotion.” The doctors in charge of the decision responded that “most bereaved individuals do not develop major depression, although they may feel terrible sadness. Major depression—the clinical syndrome—is quite different from feeling sad and blue. It also involves marked, peristent changes in function like sleep, appetite and cognition, and sometimes suicidal thinking. ” This confusion is common, but perhaps even more so in the case of bereavement. Ever since Kübler-Ross made depression one of her five stages, people see it as a normal reaction to grief. Let’s hope that the Mood Disorders Work Group for DSM-5 can help clarify the distinction.
I found this on a self-help website and decided to start a collection of mysterious graphics of grief. Why is yearning before depression? Why are outbursts the low-point on the curve and not sadness? Of course, there’s no sourcing for it, or even a designer credit. It ranks up there with the “grief wheel” in abstruseness. One of the widows I interviewed for my book was given the wheel to put up on her fridge by a well-meaning relative. But as she observed, “It’s a wheel. You go around and around on the damn thing, but how do you get off?!”