PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF PREGNANCY: EGO DEVELOPMENT AND FEMININITY
BERMAN, HARRIET KASLOFF
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This study of the psychology of pregnancy tests the following hypotheses: (1) There is not an overall ego regression among pregnant women; (2) There is regression during pregnancy in the area of object relations; (3) Women with lower levels of ego development will report greater somatic distress during pregnancy; (4) Pregnant women's attitude toward women's roles will shift in the direction of greater traditionalism; (5) Pregnancy alters women's self-conceived role in the direction of greater femininity; (6) Women who reject traditional notions of feminine role will report greater somatic disturbance during pregnancy.;The sample consisted of fifteen second trimester primiparae, twenty-one third trimester primiparae and a control group of fifteen non-pregnant married women. Ego level was assessed with the Loevinger Sentence Completion Test and the Friedman Rorschach Developmental Scale. Object relations were measured with three Rorschach scales, Blatt's scale for degree of differentiation and articulation, Urist's Mutuality of Autonomy Scale and Landis' Boundary Permeability Scale. Feminine identification was assessed by the Spence and Helmreich Attitudes Toward Women Scale and the Bem Sex Role Inventory. The psychological and somatic experience of pregnancy was assessed with Schaefer and Manheimer's Pregnancy Research Questionnaire.;The results reveal a notable trend approaching significance for pregnant women to be functioning at a lower level of ego development than non-pregnant women. Object relations do not appear to be influenced by the pregnancy. There is, however, a notable trend toward a positive relationship between degree of boundary permeability and postpartum adjustment. Women's attitudes toward the role of women do shift significantly toward greater traditionalism during pregnancy, while their self-conceived notions about themselves remain stable. The relationship of attitudes toward women and somatic distress proved to be the opposite of that predicted, that is, the less traditional a woman's notion about women's roles, the less somatic distress reported.;The findings are discussed in the context of recent developments in the psychology of women and regression during pregnancy is conceptualized as healthy and adaptive. The task of reconciling one's pre-pregnancy notions about femininity with the new experience of womanhood that comes with pregnancy is discussed. The clinical implications of the findings are addressed.
- Theses and Dissertations