RORSCHACH INDICATORS OF PREGNANCY RISK IN SEXUALLY INACTIVE ADOLESCENTS
HART, BETH ROXBURY
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This study compared the personality structure of sexually inactive adolescents to those who are contraceptively protected, those who do not use birth control reliably and those who are pregnant and plan to carry their pregnancy to term. One hundred and sixty-one subjects between the ages of 17 and 20 who were enrolled in college or a training program were included in this sample.;Personality structure was measured by various scoring systems applied to the Rorschach and TAT, an indepth clinical interview, and additional measures of ego development and attitudes. The major dimensions of personality assessed were: ego development, object relations, affective development, separation-individuation, superego functioning, and defense mechanism structure. A MANCOVA controlled for background variables.;For late adolescents, sexual activity is likely to be a healthy and appropriate form of self-expression. It was hypothesized that adolescents who remain sexually inexperienced at this stage would demonstrate personality deficiencies similar to those who do not use birth control and those who are pregnant and that these deficiencies would increase their susceptibility to untimely pregnancy once they initiated sexual activity. It was further hypothesized that adolescents who use contraception would demonstrate greater psychological maturity than the other three groups.;Conclusions of this investigation were that sexually active adolescents who use contraception effectively were functioning at significantly higher levels on all personality dimensions measured. Inactive subjects demonstrated marked deficiencies on all of these dimensions: they were less able to establish warm personal ties to peers and non-family members; they were emotionally constricted and unaware of their inner experience and affectional needs; their capacity to experience guilt was impaired and they lacked adequate development of adaptive defenses while relying primarily upon defensive avoidance of conflict. Their self-perceptions, standards and values were determined primarily by their families who demanded conformity and fostered dependency and rigidity in development.;The conclusion was reached that the sexually inactive adolescent with her ego deficiencies and susceptibility to an external value system is a high risk candidate for adolescent pregnancy once her defensive avoidance and barrier to intimacy are overcome by repeated exposure to the predominant standard of sexual expression.