Friday, May 11, 2012

Suggested Resolution to be Introduced in State Legislatures and/or the U.S. Congress


WHEREAS, Love and loss are two sides to the same coin of human connection; and

WHEREAS, Bereavement, especially traumatic bereavement such as comes with the sudden death of a spouse or a child, may bring existential grief and the darkest hours of human experience; and

WHEREAS, We cheapen and demean our own humanity and disqualify ourselves from loving, if we merely label the grief of mourning as a "mental illness" on a par with biological dysfunctions like diabetes or cancer, to be "cured" with a pill; and

WHEREAS, A psychiatric diagnosis of depression can be misapplied to a person who is grieving; and

WHEREAS, The several editions of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published since 1980 have defined depression, or Major Depressive Disorder, in terms of a checklist which has included sadness as a symptom tending to indicate a diagnosis; and

WHEREAS, An exclusion of sadness due to bereavement, as a symptom of mental illness needing medical treatment, was reduced from one year in the American Psychiatric Association's DSM-III (published in 1980) to two months in DSM-IV (published in 1994); and

WHEREAS, The proposed bereavement exclusion in DSM-5 (to be published in May, 2013) is only two weeks, meaning for example that the bereaved parent of a child lost to murder or suicide, or the spouse of a dead husband or wife of 50 years, would be labelled mentally ill for grieving longer than two weeks and encouraged to take powerful, expensive and potentially dangerous psychotropic medications; and

WHEREAS, Many experts in diverse mental health fields believe this DSM-5 scheme will be patently unscientific, arbitrary and potentially harmful to patients and clinical practice; therefore

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE, That all people have a natural human right to grieve for life's losses, and especially for losses of loved ones; and be it further

RESOLVED, That no one should be judged as having a medical or mental disorder because of normal sadness over significant loss; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the right to grieve without being labelled as ill may not be limited to any short time of a few weeks or months, because each individual must face bereavement in his or her own way and in his or her own time, and for many genuine grief over the loss of a loved one lasts for life; and be it further

RESOLVED, That our Government shall always recognize human grief and human love alike as precious to life itself, existential, and ultimately beyond the scope of mere scientific medicine.


  1. This is quite lovely, poetic even. Most psychoquacks are incapable of any expression except monosyllabic, guttural pidgin English.

  2. Thanks Rodney! I always do appreciate your perspective, and humor.

  3. Has this actually been introduced in any State legislature? Is anyone actively lobbying for it to be? The DSM-5 has even further broadened the so-called "treatment" of sadness.

    1. I am not aware that it has been introduced anywhere. I wrote this over three years ago, and hardly ever thought about it again.