The purpose of this research is to study the psychological adjustment of women during pregnancy and after delivery in the attempt to learn about the psychodynamics of women who experience difficult deliveries and/or give birth to children suffering from abnormalities or physical complications. There were two groups of subjects in this research. The first group consisted of 20 women who were studied both during pregnancy and after delivery, and the second group consisted of 28 women who were studied only during pregnancy. These women, all of whom were clinic patients, were examined with a comprehensive battery of psychological tests, including intelligence tests, self-rating scales, personality inventories, projective tests, and clinical evaluations of their personalities. On the basis of the hospital records, the women in group I and in group II were categorized into 2 subgroups--those who experienced abnormalities or complications in the process of childbirth and those who experienced no unusual difficulties.
In analyzing the test responses of the women in the normal and abnormal subgroups, several consistent trends were noted and some significant findings were obtained. Whereas on the basis of the first intelligence testing there was no difference between the women in the normal and abnormal subgroups, following the delivery there was a marked decrease in the IQ's of the women who had abnormal delivery room experiences. Also, the findings from the personality assessment methods indicated that the women in the abnormal subgroups were considerably higher on manifests anxiety and were higher on the “alienation syndrome,” a personality syndrome consisting of the following traits--egocentricity, distrust, pessimism, anxiety, and resentment. The TAT proved to be particularly revealing of differences between these subgroups of patients, with those women who had normal deliveries showing a significantly greater tendency to selectively apperceive pregnant women in their TAT stories. The results of this pilot study were regarded as encouraging and suggest several avenues of investigation to be followed in future extensions of this study. It was emphasized that the research completed to date is only preliminary; therefore, the findings obtained should be regarded as suggestive rather than conclusive.
Received April 29, 1960
Copyright © 1961 by American Psychosomatic Society