Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Gravesen, J.D., Birkelund, R.
The discursive transformation of grief throughout history
(2021) Nursing Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/nup.12351

In recent decades, the phenomenon of grief, when you lose a loved one, has been the subject of exploration and discussion among researchers. Because of this, prolonged grief is now recognized as a possible mental disorder as the latest version of the diagnosis manual; ‘International Classification of Diseases’ (ICD-11) being published in 2018 is featuring a new diagnosis called ‘prolonged grief disorder’. The commencement of this new disorder indicates a shift in the way grief is being articulated why the notion of rupture from the French philosopher Michel Foucault is applied as a philosophical approach in this paper. A Foucault-inspired discourse analysis has been prepared and by considering the issue historically and tracing how the concept of grief has been articulated in different time periods throughout history, the aim is to map out the discursive transformation that has taken place and to gain insight into how the societal context has supported and enabled this transformation. This paper takes a historical look back from the 1800s to present and identifies when changes can be observed in the way grief is being articulated. These changes or ruptures are identified in the work of Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, Sigmund Freud and Margaret Stroebe & Henk Schut who all must be assumed to have contributed significantly to how grief is perceived in various historical time periods. The discourse analysis identifies how prominent thinkers have articulated grief in each period and how today’s perception of grief, as a possible mental disorder, both relates to these prominent thinkers but also reflects dominant societal values and ideologies. © 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Author Keywords
bereavement; foucault; grief; medicalization; mental disorder; pathologization

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