Ac­cept­ing Free­dom

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page - MUKUL SHARMA

Elis­a­beth Kübler-Ross, who died in 2004 was a Swiss-Amer­i­can psy­chi­a­trist and a pioneer in near-death stud­ies. She was the au­thor of a pi­o­neer­ing book, On Death and Dy­ing where she first de­vel­oped her the­ory of the five stages of grief. Known as the Kübler-Ross model it’s a se­ries of emo­tional stages ex­pe­ri­enced when faced with im­pend­ing death. The five stages are de­nial, anger, bar­gain­ing, de­pres­sion and ac­cep­tance, or DABDA.

De­nial is a gut-level re­sponse to shut out the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion. Anger can be summed up by, “Why me? It’s not fair!” Bar­gain­ing is when one agrees to trade-off some­thing valu­able for an ex­ten­sion, such as, “I’d do any­thing for a few more years,” and ne­go­ti­ates with a higher power in ex­change for a re­formed life­style. De­pres­sion is when a per­son be­gins to ex­pe­ri­ence the cer­tainty of extinction and loses all in­ter­est in ev­ery­thing. And fi­nally there’s ac­cep­tance; and people come to terms with their mor­tal­ity.

DABDA has come in for some strong crit­i­cism from other psy­chi­a­trists who main­tain it’s a very western ori­ented model and that it doesn’t take into con­sid­er­a­tion the cul­tural rel­e­vance of the per­son con­cerned. Dif­fer­ent cul­tures for in­stance have dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to death which are not nec­es­sar­ily like the EuroAmer­i­can ap­proach.

Be­sides the cul­tural con­text there’s also an­other di­men­sion the model misses out on — the spir­i­tual athe­ist di­men­sion. People with a true be­lief in this call­ing have long ago gone through the first four stages and now live a life of ac­cep­tance till the end of their days.

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