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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 01 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d50
  1. Desmond O’Neill, consultant physician in geriatric and stroke medicine, Dublin
  1. doneill{at}

As a medical student I was well and truly “Kübler-Rossed,” becoming a follower of the theory of five stages of grief outlined in the 1969 book On Death and Dying. It was only some time later that I realised we were at the receiving end of an evangelical zeitgeist wherein conviction seemed to over-rule calmer reflection. Instead of being viewed as an important practical and reflective addition to our ways of considering reactions to serious illness and death, disciples of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in their enthusiasm, often allowed the concept to assume the characteristics of dogma. Indeed in 1985 Kübler-Ross expressed regret for having referred to them as stages, …

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