Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Sacred Womb: The Evolution of the Psyche Through Pregnancy and Childbirth
by May, Catherine Farran, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2016, 284; 10256488
Abstract (Summary)

Pregnancy and childbirth are powerful events in the life of a woman, initiating profound physical and psychological changes. This theoretical dissertation explored pregnancy in relation to mythology, archetypal energies, and the theme of empowerment. Utilizing a hermeneutic phenomenological approach and analyzing relevant texts, poetry, and artistic renderings, this work examined the experience of pregnancy and contrasted it with traumatic childbirth and its subsequent effect on women’s physical and psychological well-being. Cesarean section birth or highly technocratic hospital birth, when felt to be traumatic, can result in a woman losing her voice and feeling victimized. Women diagnosed with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders following a traumatic childbirth often experience difficulty bonding and connecting with their babies. These disorders can often be successfully treated through a combination of psychotherapy, medication, art therapy, and the telling of the birth narrative to an empathic witness. By engaging in a conscious pregnancy and becoming introspective, examining her dreams, creating birth art, or entering psychotherapy or analysis, a woman has the opportunity to reach a new psychological developmental milestone. This study discovered that women who advocated for themselves by fighting against needless interventions, maintaining an attitude of strength and autonomy, and surrounding themselves with supportive people experienced a lower rate of trauma and psychological suffering following childbirth, regardless of the method of birth.

Keywords: pregnancy, childbirth, cesarean section surgery, postpartum depression, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, reproductive psychology

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Downing, Christine
Commitee: Farnsworth, Deborah, Hansen, Maren
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 78/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Cesarean section surgery, Childbirth, Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, Postpartum depression, Pregnancy, Reproductive psychology
Publication Number: 10256488
ISBN: 9781369555660
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