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Pines, D. (1990). Pregnancy, Miscarriage and Abortion. A Psychoanalytic Perspective. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 71:301-307.

(1990). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 71:301-307

Pregnancy, Miscarriage and Abortion. A Psychoanalytic Perspective

Dinora Pines

Despite a growing interest in the psychoanalytical understanding of pregnancy there is as yet no literature regarding spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, although some attention has been paid to planned abortion. Analysis of women patients who have miscarried often reveals their sense of loss, prolonged grief and unresolved mourning many years after this event. Analysis of these women frequently reveals a longstanding depression, a loss of self-esteem and hatred of their female bodies which do not bear live children as their mothers did. Their self-representation is damaged.

In this presentation I shall discuss miscarriage, i.e. spontaneous abortion, and planned abortion, their psychological antecedents and consequences. In both situations young women become pregnant, enter a normal further developmental stage of the life cycle but are unable to continue their pregnancy to become mothers and bring a live child into the world. Thus spontaneous abortion is frequently a threat to normal first pregnancy. The medical reasons are often difficult to diagnose and treat and do not necessarily recur in subsequent pregnancies. Most occur during the first trimester of pregnancy when the pregnant woman consciously experiences the developing foetus as an integral part of herself. Her dreams may reveal other aspects of unconscious fantasy and anxiety, such as whom the foetus represents, and who has fathered the oedipal girl's baby in a forbidden guilt-laden intercourse.

In analysing women's dreams I have been impressed by the influence of physiological bodily changes on psychic life.

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