Jerry Adler lost his son, Max, in 2008 and he still feels “intense sorrow and emotional pain,” not to mention “intense anger,” over the loss at least once per day—which means the American Psychiatric Association could soon label him as suffering from an “adjustment disorder.” The APA is revising its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and next year’s DSM-5 could vastly change the APA’s treatment of grief—changes Adler finds repellent.
By changing two portions of the DSM-5, the APA will basically “pathologize grief,” a professor who opposes the changes explains to Adler. Millions of people who experience depressive symptoms as part of the grieving process could be diagnosed with a mental disorder and may receive treatments they don’t need. It’s a bad idea, particularly for parents faced with the unthinkable loss of a child, Adler writes in New York. If you don’t long for your child every day, then “you have a problem that goes deeper than anything contemplated in the DSM,” he writes. “There are some things in life to which one should never hope to become adjusted.” Click for Adler's full column.