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A documentary film investigating big pharma’s role in a rapidly expanding antidepressant market aiming to medicalize the human emotion of grief.
James McNinch
Email Verified
313 Facebook Friends
Tucson, Arizona
United States
3 Team Members

Welcome to the GOOD GRIEF Indiegogo Campaign!

With 10% percent of all Americans and 23% of American women in their 40s and 50s currently being prescribed antidepressants, are we headed down a road of extinguishing our feelings—particularly, our feelings of sadness and grief?

  Good Grief is a feature-length documentary film that investigates the depths of grief and loss. Shot nationwide, this film is truly a touchstone--capturing the process of grief found nowhere else in the media. What makes the film truly unique is the experiential catharsis of the grief stories that individuals tell. The stories lay down a blueprint of what a walk on the road of grief is like: tears, emptiness, pain and the death of the idea of the loved one in the psyche—but also light, and beauty. 

Did you know an important issue is brewing involving the capitalization of grief for profit?  Join us in this campaign and you will be supporting the feature-length investigative documentary Good Grief: The Medicalization of Loss

 Our film uncovers the medical community's role in creating a larger market of psychotropic drug consumers, and how a recent change in diagnosis standards is shrinking the normal human emotion of grief.  Good Grief also exposes the injustice that occurs when misinformed doctors diagnose grieving patients as dysfunctional--when they may, in fact, be experiencing a natural human emotional process.  

According to Jonathan Rottenberg, PhD in the April 2014 issue of Psychology Today, some 38 million American Adults battle with depression. The World Health Organization projects that by 2030, the amount of disability and life lost due to depression will be greater than that from war, cancer, stroke, or any other health condition beside heart disease.

Good Grief asks critical questions as to why we may not be processing our feelings and what happens to our society when we abandon our feelings?  What is the cost of this neglect or denial? Every year 2.4 million people die in the United States alone. The loss of one person deeply impacts 20 people on average.

With the help of published medical doctors, social scientists, grieving individuals, and other experts--we have filmed 61 hours of footage, and conducted 17 key interviews.  In doing so we have spent hundreds of hours investigating, traveling, researching, planning, filming and editing.  We have spent thousands of dollars of our own money to get to where we are today, but without your help we will only get so far.

We must say that the experience has been that of a rich, enthralling project. The film has catapulted purpose and meaning into our lives in ways that have aided in the healing of our own personal grief and loss. We stand behind the film fully vested--and we will see it through to the end, because that is the kind of people we are.

We need you to join our team--along with co-directors James McNinch, David Icely, and Film Producer Lanell Garbini. Now we find ourselves over halfway through the completion of the film. We truly need your help to reach our $44,000 goal, so we can finish Good Grief!

Why help make this film?

If so many Americans are sad, we should help them--right? Most health professionals would say “yes” because experiencing depression can be so debilitating. Many experts point to an alarming 400% increase in the public use of antidepressants from 1988-2008. Accompanying this increase has been a surge in pharmaceutical company marketing. Antidepressants rank third in a list of the most commonly prescribed medications taken, and the use of them is rapidly closing in on the number one spot. The number of female users has skyrocketed from 3.2% in 1988 to 14.8% of the American female population. 

A recent study of 5,000 patients diagnosed with depression found that two-thirds of this population--within 12 months of being diagnosed with depression-- did not meet the criteria for major depressive episode as described by the psychiatrists’ bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (or DSM-IV).

Currently, if you experience something tragic and are misdiagnosed, you may not only be put on medications--you may lose all of your rights. Consider a case earlier this year that made national headlines.

According to a February article in the Burlington Free Press, Burlington, Vermont: Christina Schumacher, a mother from Essex,Vermont, was hospitalized against her will for five weeks--following a murder-suicide involving her teenage son and her estranged husband. She says she is being billed, as well as her insurance company, for her unwanted treatment.

Schumacher had been seeing a psychiatrist for several weeks, and arrived for a previously scheduled appointment Dec. 19, the day after the bodies of her estranged husband and son were discovered.

Before her appointment at the University Health Center, her doctor had police on standby to take her into custody if she would not admit herself to a psychiatric ward.

When Schumacher declined to voluntarily admit herself, she was detained by police. The police report showed that the officers had to wait several hours because mental health staff lacked the proper paperwork to have her legally transported to Fletcher Allen Health Care.

Schumacher told the press that she missed interacting with her surviving daughter. She commented: my daughter and I need each other during this grieving process. I love my daughter. I miss her. She added: this is my journey, and in no way is it up to anyone to judge how I mourn.

The Impact of Good Grief

When the Diagnostic Statistics Manual (Version 5) was released in May of 2013, there was much debate within the psychiatric community about its "bereavement exclusion".  Traditionally, it was viewed that the natural grieving process takes a minimum of 6 months to 1 year.  With the changes to the DSM-5, there is now a push to diagnose those who grieve longer than 2 weeks as suffering from major depression.  This diagnosis then recommends the use of pharmaceuticals. 

As filmmakers, we were alarmed once this grief for profit issue was brought to our attention. We began working relentlessly investigating the role of medical policymakers and the pharmaceutical companies in their expansion into the clinical depression prescription drug market.

This attempt to profiteer on the grief issue is having a profound influence on individuals. Our purpose in creating this film is to document and to reveal how this new policy is impacting individuals and the family grief process.

Our connection to the individuals and families in the film is truly remarkable. We are honored to have been witness to such warmth, vulnerability and courage.

We really want to show you the individual aftermath of grief--not only the social cost surrounding the issue. We want to show you the people behind the policy.

We believe the vast majority of doctors have our best interests in mind and that they really want to “do no harm.” However, 85% of people being prescribed antidepressants aren’t receiving their medications from psychiatrists, they are receiving these medications from nurse practitioners or general medicine practitioners.


Author of Saving NormalAn Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric DiagnosisDSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life.

In a January 7, 2013 letter he made public to the Huffington Post, entitled Last Plea To DSM-5: Save Grief From the Drug Companies, Dr. Allen Frances--a former chair to the DSM—said:

“In my list of the 10 worst things about DSM-5, its decision to confuse normal grief with clinical depression earned a very high-ranking at second place.

“DSM-5 will go to press at the end of January. The American Psychiatric Association has just four more weeks to reverse this dreadful mistake that flies in the face of clinical common sense and is unsupported by the limited available science.” -Allen Frances MD, DSM-IV task force chair and Professor Emeritus, Duke University.

On her blog, Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, Arizona State University professor and grief expert, posted the following:

“The change that most concerns me has to do with the "bereavement exclusion"(BE). In the current manual, the DSM IV, this exclusion means that a person who has suffered the death of a loved one may be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) no less than two months following the loss. Prior iterations, the DSM III, stated one year.

"The new DSM 5, with a planned release date in early 2013, however, has again reduced that prescribed time frame from two months to two weeks, further pathologizing the authentic human experience of sorrow. So, a person may, at the discretion of a psychiatrist, social worker, or psychologist, be categorized as "mentally ill" as soon as two weeks following the death of a loved one. While I don't like or agree with either 'time limit', the arbitrary absurdity of "14-days post-loss-then-becomes-depression-label" has ignited a fire in the pits of my being against the DSM machine.

Her blog post went viral with over 200,000 readers in a matter of hours.

The fact is, doctors have long prescribed antidepressants soon after the death of a family member, even though the DSM urges clinicians to differentiate between normal grief and pathological bereavement. But with grief now defined in the DSM-5, will tolerance for natural human emotion decline further?

Grief is truly unexpected, profound and out of our thoughts--until the unthinkable happens. When it does happen, where do you turn? What does grief look like? Why do you feel so alone in your grief? Does grief ever end—and, if not, how does it change? Do we change? Good Grief asks questions regarding the blurred lines between psychopathology and natural human emotion. What is grief? What is depression? Why aren’t they the same thing?

Good Grief identifies new community-based movements to cope with bereavement that are emerging from our nation’s traumatic losses. These movements point to a change in healing, what we value and how we treat each other.

The film is a unique journey exploring grief and how individuals cope with traumatic loss.  Unfortunately, you and your loved ones will experience grief in your lives--we all will.  With your help, we can finish this film to get the message out and preserve grief--a natural human process. 

We have spent 10 months of our time and thousands of dollars of our own money exploring this part or our human existence. Now we need your help to keep the grief dialogue rolling and tell you our best story yet!

Good Grief: The Medicalization of Loss is not just a movie, it will be an impetus for a healthier industry.  It has the potential to directly impact the information, implications for practice, and intervention protocol of general practitioners when meeting with those who have lost a loved one. 

How Your Contributions Help

Filming is expensive. Your contributions to this campaign will pay for production and other costs such as:

  Travel Expenses, (Primarily to conduct interviews)

  Equipment Cost

  Post-production costs and editing

  HD transfers

  Film distribution

  DVD production

  Film Festival Submission Fees

  Film promotion

Please consider making as generous a gift as you can.  The more funding we raise, the more powerful message we can send! 

The Benefits

The many benefits of this film go far beyond the listed perks. Help us and stand up to an industry that has the ability to manipulate and profit off a vulnerable grieving population.

Check out some of our perks!

•  DVDs of the film

  Digital download of the film

  Custom designed Good Grief T-Shirt created by Fed By Threads the first and only humanitarian, sustainable, US-made clothing line & store in America that feeds 12 emergency meals to hungry Americans from each item sold.

  A "Special Thanks" acknowledging support in the film credits

  A "Commemorative" film credit in memory of a lost loved one

  Gary Greenberg's New York Times Bestselling book (see cover of book below) The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry

Your gift of $1, $10, $50, $1,000 or more can make all the difference to the film, its interviews, film festival submissions, distribution capabilities, equipment, legal/business consultation, travel, promotion and post-production editing. Let’s make Good Grief possible!!

Other Ways You Can Help

If you are financially unable to contribute to the campaign, YOU CAN STILL HELP!  Play a vital role by sharing this link on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.  Your involvement is crucial to our success--please help us get the word out! 

Your support will make all the difference in bringing these important social issues into the light.  

A heartfelt thank you!

James McNinch, Director of Creative Content 

Rincon Films

David Icely, Director of Photography  

Find This Campaign On
raised in 2 months
6% funded
No time left
$44,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 15, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $10USD

    Your contribution and support can make a huge difference! You will have the gratification of knowing YOU contributed to the making of the film - and you might even receive some good karma!

    1 claimed
  • $25USD
    Social Media Thanks

    You will be one of the first to view the film as a digital download which is yours to keep! Make a statement about an issue that has touched your life and is important to you - give us the thumbs up through social media and we'll give you the shout out! Your contribution will get you a giant THANK YOU through social media and the recognition you deserve as a supporter!

    4 claimed
  • $30USD
    DVD + Supporter Satisfaction

    You will receive your very own DVD of Good Grief: The Medicalization of Loss and the satisfaction that comes from helping bring awareness to this important social issue!

    6 claimed
  • $50USD
    Film Credit + Digital Download

    In addition to a digital download of the film your name will forever be listed in the “Special Thanks” credits of Good Grief as a donor to this film!

    9 claimed
  • $80USD
    T-Shirt + DVD

    You will enjoy a DVD of the film and a custom designed Good Grief T-Shirt created by Fed By Threads the first and only humanitarian, sustainable, US-made clothing line & store in America that feeds 12 emergency meals to hungry Americans from each item sold. The Choice is simple; The results are profound.

    2 claimed
  • $90USD
    DVD + Book

    You will enjoy a copy of the New York Times best-selling book The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry written by Gary Greenberg PLUS a DVD of the film.

    0 claimed
  • $150USD
    Book + DVD + T-Shirt

    In addition to everything in our $80 perk you will also receive a custom designed Good Grief T-Shirt created by Fed By Threads the first and only humanitarian, sustainable, US-made clothing line & store in America that feeds 12 emergency meals to hungry Americans from each item sold.

    1 claimed
  • $200USD
    Commemorative Credit

    A lost loved one's name will be listed in the "In Memory Of" credits to be forever honored through this film. In addition, your name will be listed as the person providing the contribution in their honor. You will also receive everything in the $100 perk.

    0 claimed
  • $250USD
    The Philanthropist

    No one person can sweep in and save the day or fix the current health industry, but together we can make this film and bring about the awareness to start a transformation! You will get 10 DVDs of the film to share or donate throughout your community, 5 copies of The Book of Woe, and a Good Grief T-Shirt.

    0 claimed
  • $500USD
    The Advocate

    Promote a healthy industry and make an impact in your community! Help to implement improvement in your profession or business with 10 DVDs, 5 copies of The Book of Woe, and a Good Grief T-Shirt.

    0 claimed
  • $625USD
    Associate Producer Credit

    You will be listed as an Associate Producer in the film credits! Join us with a guest for one of the major premiere events and after party! In addition you will receive 10 signed DVDs, 10 signed film posters, and an unlimited screening rights license. *Travel to premier events not included *Lodging not included *Screen credit name must be an individual

    2 out of 20 claimed
  • $1,250USD
    Assistant Producer Credit

    You will be listed as an Assistant Producer in the film credits! Join us with a guest as a V.I.P. for a major premiere event and after party. In addition you will receive 20 signed DVDs, 10 signed film posters, 2 Good Grief T-Shirts, and an unlimited screening rights license. *Travel to premier events not included *Lodging not included

    0 out of 10 claimed
  • $2,500USD
    Co-Executive Producer Credit

    Your name will be prominently featured in the film credits as a Co-Executive Producer. You and one guest will be invited as V.I.P.s to one of the major premiere events and after party! In addition you will receive 50 signed DVDs, 25 signed film posters, 5 copies of The Book of Woe, 2 Good Grief film T-Shirts, and an unlimited screening rights license. *Travel to premier events not included *Lodging not included

    0 out of 3 claimed
  • $5,000USD
    Executive Producer Credit

    Your name will be prominently featured in the film credits as a Co-Executive Producer! You and one guest will be invited as V.I.P. guests to one of the major premiere events and after party. In addition you will receive 50 signed DVDs, 25 signed film posters, 5 copies of The Book of Woe, 2 Good Grief film T-Shirts, and an unlimited screening rights license. *Travel to premier events not included *Lodging not included

    0 out of 2 claimed
  • $10,000USD
    Public Screening Package

    200 DVDs of the film with 100 signed, 25 signed movie posters, and a license to organize a public screening once the film has been released. One of the directors will attend and participate in a Q and A with the audience!

    0 out of 2 claimed
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