This essay seeks to explore the reasons behind grief and whether it can be "treated" like a medical condition through psychological measures. There will also be a discussion of the different sources and forms of grief as psychological phenomena.
Central to the understanding of Grief as a mental condition, are the different reactions people have to it , and recent academic opinion tends to avoid the traditional conceptions of grief being a " process" which is predicable in every sense. The new ideas seek to compare and evaluate the different responses of people to different kind of grief which has a lot to do with their family and gender orientation as well as religious and spiritual beliefs. A connected concept is bereavement, which implies a loss in ones life of a loved one or family and has the connected danger of transforming into a mental disease. Over the years there have been a number of physical and psychological therapies and counseling which have been developed to counter this traumatic time for people. Yet many people fare better in physical downfalls rather than emotional pitfalls involving grief and loss.The debate goes on about the whether grief "strikes like lightning" and kills slowly. Many academics like Dr. Elisabeth Kbler-Ross have spoken about how grief has certain stages involving anger and denial. Other psychologists deny the cyclical treatment of grief and look towards common experiences of people with in the themes of numbness ,yearning and despair.
1The stages of Grief
It can be said that there is a difference between normal and abnormal grief (Engel 1961) and grief can be defined as
"involving suffering and an impairment in the capacity to function which may last for days weeks and even months .We can identify a constant etiologic factor namely .real ,threatened or even fantasised object loss. It fulfils all the criteria of a discrete syndrome with relatively predictable sympatomatology and course. The grieving person is often manifestly distressed and disabled"
Another academic notes that,
"Whenever one's identity and social order face the possibility of destruction, there is a natural tendency to feel angry, frustrated, helpless, and/or hurt. The volatile reactions of terror, hatred, resentment, and jealousy are often experienced as emotional manifestations of these feelings."2
Medical and psychiatric opinion suggests that grief causes physical and stress related illnesses like bodily pain and asthmatic difficulties. Grief has also been recorded to cause death (Engels 1961) and it is said that it increases the risk of suicide amongst the aggrieved. Some writers have argued that there has to be a line drawn between grief and abnormal grief (Wilkinson 1999).The symptoms of abnormal grief are both physical and mental and include conditions like nightmares, asthma, insomnia, and loss of appetite. (Engels 1961 and Wilkinson 1999).Many people will try and avoid the pain by abusing medications and others report loss of libido and even hallucinations.(Engels 1961).
The diagram on the left explains in simple terms the relationship between grief, bereavement and mourning
The biggest misconception has been traditionally to assume for the people struck with grief that "time heals all wounds". Much rather if the condition of Grief is not treated and