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December 1966

Clinicians' Conceptions of the Asthmatogenic Mother

Author Affiliations

From the University of California, Berkeley (Dr. Block and Mrs. Simpson), and the Children's Hospital of the East Bay, Oakland (Drs. Harvey and Jennings), Calif.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(6):610-618. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730180050007

IN THE SEARCH for etiological factors underlying the onset of bronchial asthma, psychiatrists have tended to focus upon Psychopathology in the early childhood experiences of the patient. The conflicts which have been observed to characterize parentchild relationships of asthmatic patients have led clinicians to postulate the mother as a decisive, traumatic, pathological agent in the child's environment, contributing to the development of exacerbation of the child's allergic symptoms. Most descriptions of the "asthmatogenic" mother are based on impressions gained in the therapeutic setting, although a few experimental studies (Block et al, 1964;1 Cutter, 1955;2 Fitzelle, 1959;3 Neuhaus, 19584) have made systematic comparisons between the mothers of asthmatic and nonasthmatic children.

In comparing the descriptions in the literature of the "asthmatogenic" mother, we find considerable disparity in the conceptions offered. Although many clinicians agree that the asthmatogenic mother is rejecting, dominating, overprotective, insecure, and suffering from feelings

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