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September 1973

The Abortion Constellation: Early History and Present Relationships

Author Affiliations

From Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1973;29(3):346-350. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1973.04200030044006

Sixty-five married and single women who have had an abortion to terminate unwanted pregnancies were compared with matched controls who appear to be effective users of contraception. Index subjects are significantly more likely than controls to have a history of role redefinition in family of origin, and this is seen as being causally related to a motivational structure which predisposes them to risk unwanted pregnancy.

Principal components of role redefinition are: (1) the daughter taking over some elements of her mother's role as wife or housekeeper; (2) the daughter's alienation from the mother; and (3) intimacy between the father and daughter which excludes the mother. The etiology appears to be distance and hostility in the parents' marriage.

In addition to some combination of these circumstances having been present during adolescence, index subjects differ from controls in saying that their most important relationships have been with men, in disliking sex, and in receiving inadequate support from female friends and relatives.

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