Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Metabolizing birth: The impact of labor and birth on the maternal mind
by Williams, Jacqueline, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2016, 147; 10140839
Abstract (Summary)

This study explores the psychological dynamics associated with labor and birth in order to better understand the role these experiences play in women’s psychological development. This research study utilized interpretative phenomenological analysis as a research methodology and sought to address the following questions through the theoretical perspective of psychoanalysis and social constructionism: How does the experience of pregnancy and birth impact the subjectivity of women? How do women make sense of these experiences? What role does the body play in women’s psychological development? Does the experience of childbirth mark a unique developmental phase in the psychological life of women? In this research study, six women were asked to describe their birth narrative in full and respond to a series of open-ended questions. The results of this study indicate that pregnancy and childbirth is a porous developmental period associated with fears about capacity and feelings of omnipotence as well as multiple losses and a new sense of self. One of the more significant findings of this study is that the experience of labor and birth is felt by many women to involve feelings associated with encountering death. This finding may lead to increased understanding of why pregnancy and childbirth results in fragmentation for some women, while it appears to be a catalyst for increased subjectivity and maternal embodiment for other women.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Peterson, Chris
Commitee: Lewis, Christine, Osborn, Lisa
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Developmental psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Childbirth, Maternal development, Maternal psychology, Women's development, Women’s subjectivity
Publication Number: 10140839
ISBN: 978-1-339-96234-4
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