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Gelman, R.L. (1963). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXXII, 1962: Some Specific Areas of Conflict Observed in Pregnancy: A Comparative Study of Married and Unmarried Pregnant Women. John G. Loesch and Nahman H. Greenberg. Pp. 624-636.. Psychoanal Q., 32:138-138.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXXII, 1962: Some Specific Areas of Conflict Observed in Pregnancy: A Comparative Study of Married and Unmarried Pregnant Women. John G. Loesch and Nahman H. Greenberg. Pp. 624-636.

(1963). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 32:138-138

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXXII, 1962: Some Specific Areas of Conflict Observed in Pregnancy: A Comparative Study of Married and Unmarried Pregnant Women. John G. Loesch and Nahman H. Greenberg. Pp. 624-636.

Renee L. Gelman

Two groups of primigravidas, twenty-two wives of graduate students and thirty-one unmarried pregnant women, were interviewed as part of a long-term investigation of psychophysiologic processes in infancy. The group of unwed mothers revealed striking regularity in the evidence of significant alteration in their lives just prior to conceptionobject loss such as death of the parents or some other significant relative or male friend, separation from parents, or threatened loss of a valued job. A conscious wish for pregnancy was observed in one-third of these women. The major conscious problems were focused upon giving up or keeping the infant; feelings about separation anticipated with delivery; and active fantasies and wishes to re-establish a relationship with the child's father. There were only rare verbalizations of concern about the infant per se. Depressive reactions, and what appeared at times to be almost typical mourning, were frequently observed after the delivery. The pregnancy left this group relatively unchanged psychically.

The married women, wives of dental and medical students, were all separated from their families and burdened with a combination of working and being housewives during the pregnancy. The predominant themes were concern over bodily changes and the fear of mutilation or death during delivery, concern over whether or not the infant would be normal, and a marked change in attitudes toward their husbands. Dependency needs increased markedly. Verbalized fantasies were concerned with what the baby would be like and how they themselves would function as mothers. One significant finding was the loosening of defenses in the married group of mothers who were, for the most part, without overt psychopathology prior to pregnancy. This relaxation of defenses, or the pushing forward of usually well-defended conflicts, may be characteristic of normal pregnancy, and the resultant conflicts and distress may stem from this process.

The authors comment that it is evident that pregnancy per se is not developmental nor even necessarily a developmental crisis in itself. For the unwed mothers pregnancy was a period of disturbance with little evidence of psychological change. The pregnancy state, while having certain idiosyncratic features, can only be understood in a larger framework, as a preparation leading to the critical period of the early motherhood experience.

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Article Citation

Gelman, R.L. (1963). American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. XXXII, 1962. Psychoanal. Q., 32:138-138

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