As we know, post-abortion distress, trauma or grief is not included in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This makes it harder for women who experience post-abortion trauma to get help, so we can hope that this changes someday.
Meanwhile, I was interested to learn while reading the 2003 Gray and Lassance book, Grieving Reproductive Loss that grief itself was once viewed as pathological in the DSM. Here's their account of this:
"Bloody awful!" exclaimed the actor Sir Anthony Hopkins in the film Shadowlands, in which he portrayed C.S. Lewis who was describing the pain of his grief after the death of his wife.
This description of grief as being "bloody awful" is an emotive expression of the painful reality of what the experience of grief is, namely, "keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret; anguish, heartache, woe, misery, sadness, melancholy, moroseness". In addition to this dictionary definition, there are various ways to conceptualize grief and mourning as they appear in the grief literature.
Some of these descriptions take the form of tasks, phases, stages, steps, and even symptoms. Some grief experts have argued that grief is an illness or a disease, while others oppose that theory. Some definitions have even changed over time.
Dr. Glen Davidson spoke about such a change in his presentation at the October 1997 National SHARE Conference on Perinatal Bereavement in St. Louis, Missouri. He indicated that the DSM, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the standard guide for psychiatry of mental health definitions, in its Second Edition (1968) listed "chronic displacement", "delusional", and "psychotic" as chacteristics of mourning.
In DSM-III and subsequent revisions, mourning is treated as a normal and necessary process. This change in the definition of mourning did not come about easily. This shift from pathology to normal process represented a great deal of professional struggle; Dr. Davidson was part of that struggle. It was largely through his efforts and others like him, who also believed that mourning was a normal and necessary process, that this change finally came about.