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Giuliani, J. (2009). Uncommon Misery: Modern Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Infertility. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 57(1):215-226.

(2009). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 57(1):215-226

Panel Report

Uncommon Misery: Modern Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Infertility

Jack Giuliani

Harriet Wolfe, chair of the panel, introduced the topic under discussion as “a complex emotional experience … the unexpected discovery of infertility and the choices and events that follow upon it, an emotional experience that may have a uniquely disturbing quality, a truly uncommon misery.” She noted the relative lack of psychoanalytic investigation of this topic, despite the IPA panels held in 1997 and 1999. “With the exception of work by Roberta Apfel and Rheta Keylor, Nancy Chodorow, Sharon Zalusky, and Allison Rosen, the literature since the late 1990s is sparse.” She noted that our knowledge about infertility has changed, and that we now view the concept of “psychogenic infertility” as simplistic and anachronistic, since new technology can enable conception.

Wolfe thought that our new perspective, and the new technology, require an ongoing adaptation and integration in our thinking about infertility. She also felt that we are now challenged to integrate child and adult perspectives on infertility, and to better understand the nature of the desire to conceive, as well as of the pain of infertility and miscarriage. Our decisions for, and reactions to, either outcome have psychological and developmental implications.

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