Tag Archive: Stoicism


The war on grief

Everything Matters: Beyond Meds

by Robert D. Stolorow

traumaThe DSM5, the most recent version of psychiatry’s diagnostic bible, makes it possible to classify grieving that endures beyond a rather brief span of time as a mental illness.

This pathologizing of grief has ancient roots extending back at least as far as the Stoics, whose stern ascetic morality preached a perfect indifference that eschewed all passionate attachments. The ideal of selfless asceticism was carried forth in early Christianity, showing up dramatically, for example, in the Confessions of the prominent 12th century monk, Saint Bernard, who was wracked with guilt over his grief for his beloved dead brother. His brother, after all, was enjoying eternal happiness in heaven, so Bernard could only feel his grieving his loss as a manifestation of a wicked selfishness on his own part.

The pathologizing of grief was continued by the philosopher Rene Descartes, usually considered to be the initiator of…

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A Different World

Here we go again, whenever my words and emotions connect there is a bang from upstairs, and suddenly both my words and emotions are in ruins.

I was going to say something like, I’m just watching a news report on BBC World News, about a killing in Afghanistan, and looking at the uncomfortable stoicism of some of the people who seem to be presiding men, and young boys crying alone and no one comforting them.   Maybe no one was there, I don’t know.  But I was thinking I am so pleased for the therapy and ministry movement in the West and that our men aren’t expected to do the stiff upper lip and upright bearing thing anymore. 

Earlier there was a story, in Extreme Weddings, about a couple getting married, an arranged marriage, and the woman was shown on her wedding day, and she didn’t look to me just overwhelmed, she looked grief-stricken, but I might have misinterpreted it.  And the older women dancing like minarets, and everyone doing the strained happy thing that people do at weddings everywhere, because it is supposed to be a happy day.  I wonder if so many marital problems start right there, at the insistence, whether it is true or not, that everyone is happy on the wedding day.  The expectation that that is how it should be, whether it is successfully carried through or not.  But I looked at that report and wanted to come home to England.  Ever the wimp and melodramatist.

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