MENARCHE - A DEVELOPMENTAL TURNING POINT FOR THE FEMALE SELF (FEMALE DEVELOPMENT, OBJECT RELATIONS, ADOLESCENT, SELF-REPRESENTATION)
The onset of menstruation was seen as a major developmental milestone in the life of the young woman which has a significant effect on the self and on object relations. Contrary to the classical psychoanalytic viewpoint which sees menarche as recapitulating early childhood traumas, it was suggested that menarche serves as a cognitive organizer which consolidates female gender identity and enhances the development of the female self. It was further hypothesized that this process would be facilitated when the young woman has been the beneficiary of a positive relationship with her mother. Empathic attunement between mother and daughter was seen as facilitating the daughter's identification with her mother as a female role model, subsequently encouraging the young woman to accept the onset of menstruation as a positive experience. It was predicted that feminine identification and ego development would also be heightened for these subjects.;One hundred and four eighth grade subjects were recruited from a specialized Junior High School program for the intellectually gifted. Subjects were asked to complete a paper and pencil questionnaire assessing response to menarche, relationship with mother, and achievement of developmental landmarks. The Loevinger Sentence Completion Test, and the Personal Attributes Questionnaire were also administered.;Results suggested that onset of menstruation did exert some effect on the developmental process. In addition, relationship with mother was found to be a significant variable in determining response to menstruation, however, not in the predicted direction. Young women who responded positively to the onset of menstruation tended to have more conflictual relationships with their mothers than those with a negative or neutral response.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 47-02, Section: B, page: 7870.