Book Summaries Notes Psychology Psychology

Myth 10: When Dying, People Pass through a Universal Series of Psychological Stages (50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology)

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These stages, often called the “Five Stages of Grief,” supposedly describe an invariant sequence of stages that all people pass through when dying
(Kübler-Ross, 1969, 1974).

These stages are widely accepted in medical, psychological, and nursing communities. They have permeated popular culture through movies and TV shows. In The Simpsons, Homer hilariously goes through all the stages within seconds.

The Kubler-Ross stages have become so familiar to us, that some people feel like they ought to conform to this natural progress of sentiments. But some people see no meaning in the tragic death of a loved one even many years after it has occurred. We would expect that such a widely adopted framework would be scientifically validated, but this isn’t the case. Studies in the 1990’s have found that patients often pass through the stages in reverse order.

There may or may not be danger in believing in this framework, but what is for certain, is that the pressure on the grieving to go through the different stages is unhealthy. Some may feel that something is wrong with them if they don’t adhere so neatly to them. People go through grief differently, and like any subjective experience, the experience of grief changes radically from individual to individual.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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