Tuesday, May 03, 2011


In the conversations involving the death of Osama bin Laden, one hears the word "closure" used very frequently. Is it a meaningful notion or just pop psychological nonsense?

It is certainly true that in unusual cases such as the disappearances of political dissidents in Central America in the 1980s, their loved ones had problematic grieving processes because they felt they could not surrender hope that the person was still alive in a secret prison and could someday emerge. In such cases, final word would free the loved ones from this emotional limbo. But those cases are far the exception.

What about more normal cases? Do we use notions like "closure" to justify what we realize are just revenge fantasies and use pseudo-psychological babble to provide moral cover for our baser urges or is it a legitimate concern for the healing of victims?