How dealing properly with grief can be a ticket to transformation

America is edging closer and closer to a kind of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest kind of society in which any kind of emotional expression ~ such as a natural outpouring of grief after a bereavement ~ is regarded as an abherrent behaviour and even a mental disability.

The aim seems to be to have a general populace that is medicated by the Nurse Ratchets of the pharmaceutical industry against reality.

Evidence of this alarming state of affairs has come to light with the fifth revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which now includes new so-called “mental disorders” such as bereaving the death of a loved one, and which will list the appropriate pharmaceutical intervention.

Of course, as any grief therapist will tell you, expressing emotion after the death of a loved one is a necessary part of the grieving process, and within Grief Therapy, this is actually encouraged. Among indigenous peoples, grieving and mourning has always been a vital part of the ritual surrounding death, and sometimes it can be highly stylised with certain vocal sounds ~ like wailing and keening ~ as being encouraged to provide a kind of cathartic sound healing.

Burial rituals are as important and intrinsic to our wellbeing as being loved, and evidence for them is found going back hundreds of thousands of years. They are connected with our regard for our ancestors as we help them pass across the veils into their new destination with rituals, music, dance and song, often accompanied with crying, wailing and beating of chests.

If this necessary rite of passage is now to be labelled a mental illness, we will be losing a huge plank in our collective consensus of what it means to be human. It will also be another nail in the coffin (sorry, no pun intended!) in the breakdown of human identity and connection to our roots.

So far, thousands of health professionals have already come out in opposition to the new DSM manual in its current form.

According to David Pilgrim from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK, it is obvious that DSM-5 “will help the interests of the drug companies” by widening the scope of what is considered to be mental illness.

He told Reuters Health in a recent interview that the new guidelines “risk treating the experience and conduct of people as if they are botanical specimens waiting to be identified and categorised in rigid boxes.” He added that it is a “form of collective madness,” and referred to the proposed revisions as a “pseudo-scientific exercise.”

But the pharmaceutical have long been using iterations of this manual to widen their remit, and their profit margins.

The original 1840 Census of the United States contained only one classification for mental illness, which was known as “idiocy/insanity.” Throughout the following century, the number of recognised mental disorders increased to more than 300 behaviours. Now with this new DSM-5, that number will likely jump significantly higher.

“Many people who are shy, bereaved, eccentric, or have unconventional romantic lives will suddenly find themselves labelled as mentally ill,” said Peter Kinderman, head of Liverpool University’s Institute of Psychology in a recent interview. “It’s not human, it’s not scientific, and it won’t help decide what help a person needs.”

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