Kübler-Ross Model

Other Known Aliases – 5 stages of grief

Definition – chronological progression of emotional states after experiencing profound personal loss

Clinical SignificanceThe five distinct phases of this model include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although widely used, it is not based on any empirical research or evidence and can be affected by cultural norms. In fact, many mental health professionals put this in the “myth” file and say that grief/loss is not a staged event, but rather a spectrum that a person can go backwards and forwards through at any point after the event.

HistoryNamed after Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1926-2004), who was a Swiss-American psychiatrist and recieved her medical doctorate from the University of Colorado in 1963. It was during this training that she was appalled by the treatment and management of terminally ill patients and began what would be her life’s work and passion. In 1965, she accepted an instructor position at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine and began given seminars using medical students to conduct interviews with terminally ill patients. These seminars drew both appraise and criticism, as she called into question many traditionally accepted practices of psychiatry at the time. This all culminated in 1969 where she proposed her 5 stages of grief model in her book entitled On Death and Dying. In her later career, she embraced holistic medicine and spiritulism and founded a spiritual healing center called “Shanti Nilaya” in California. Dr. Kübler-Ross suffered a series of strokes in 1995, which left her paralyzed on left side, and died in a nursing home in Scottsdale, AZ in 2004.


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