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3 The new diagnosis: prolonged grief disorder – what does it do to us, what does it do for us?
  1. Niels Saxtrup1,
  2. Peter Clement Lund2,
  3. Christina Schacht-Magnussen3,
  4. Ole Hartling4
  1. 1Danish College of General Practitioners, København Ø, Denmark
  2. 2Department of psychologi, Aalborg, Denmark
  3. 3Danish Psychological Association, Aarhus, Denmark


On the sky of diagnoses a new star is born: Prolonged Grief Disorder.

In the WHO’s 11th classification of diagnoses, ICD11, grief has been transformed from an existential phenomenon into a disorder, if the person has a persistent and pervasive longing for the deceased or preoccupation with the deceased, if it diverts from cultural, social or religious norms and causes significant impairment in general functioning, and if it continues for more than 6 months.

It is yet unknown how the diagnosis will be implemented in each country and the precise nomenclature is under construction.

In this symposium we will discuss the cultural and social culture that lead us to this new diagnosis – how did we get to a point where grief became a disorder? The yearning for making a diagnosis is substantial because a diagnosis indicates ‘manageability’. At the same time the labelling turns a person into a patient.

We will discuss the contents and criteria of the diagnosis, some of the current academic work and research concerning grief; and we will discuss what impact the diagnosis may have in the consultation room between doctor and patient, but also what occurs when the diagnosis leaves the room and moves into other spheres of our personal lives and society; what are the consequences getting a diagnosis and who are the interested parties.

Scientists and clinicians from different fields will discuss possibilities, limits and even dangers of the new diagnosis from their respective perspectives.

We claim that this medicalisation of a normal condition is a consequence of a cultural development driven not only by a wish to do good but by commercial interests as well.

Niels Saxtrup, GP, The Research Unit for General Practice Copenhagen (DK), representing Danish College of GP’s in the working group to develop the Danish national clinical guidelines for PGD.

Peter Clement Lund, sociologist, Pd.D.-fellow, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University (DK).

Christina Schacht-Magnussen, Clinical Psychologist, specialist and supervisor in Psychotherapy, representing Danish College of Psychologists in the in the working group to develop the Danish national clinical guidelines for PGD.

Ole Hartling, consultant and former chairman of the Danish Council of Ethics.

Objectives Our objective is to discuss the construction of a new diagnosis from various perspectives and the ‘grief-industry’ as a driver for overdiagnosis.

Method We will construct 4 presentations, one from each of us. Followed by a discussion.

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