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Is ‘normal grief’ a mental disorder?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2000
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Number of pages15
Original languageEnglish


I argue that grief (including ‘normal grief’) is a mental disorder. I discuss the main concepts involved briefly, and state the prima facie case in favour of the view that grief is a disorder. I consider objections that grief is not a disorder because (a) it is a normal response; (b) it is more healthy than failing to grieve; (c) it involves cognitive good; (d) it is a rational response; (e) it ought not to be medicalized or treated; (f ) it has a ‘distinct sustaining cause’. Each objection is flawed, and I conclude that there is a strong case for regarding even ‘normal’ grief as a disorder. Alternatively, the arguments in this paper may be taken as attacking ‘orthodoxrsquo; definitions of mental health (e.g., in DSM 4th edn) by providing an extended discussion of one particular counter-example.