Clinical Commentary|Articles in Press

The Other Postpartum: Pregnancy Loss and Mental Illness

      In 1974, after months of anger and anxiety, Ms. R, “a 23-year-old attractive married woman,” wrapped her child’s crib sheet around her neck in an attempt to hang herself. She’d been carrying a pregnancy that her husband did not want and miscarried in the second trimester. Her psychotherapist determined that the suicide attempt was the result of “pathological morbid grief,” while the miscarriage itself resulted from “preexisting sadomasochistic conflicts” and “conflicts about the feminine biological role.” Miscarriage was “an unconscious alternative to motherhood,” and women who miscarried “were more closely attached to their fathers than to their mothers” (
      • Corney R.T.
      • Horton Jr., F.T.
      Pathological grief following spontaneous abortion.
      ). In other words, when a pregnancy went awry and a woman suffered psychologically, she had no one to blame but herself.
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