Clinical observations indicated that those psychiatric patients who survived when a preborn sibling died were adversely affected by the experience. It seemed that being a survivor of a pregnancy loss, particularly abortion, contributed to psychiatric illnesses. Data was collected from a sample of 293 adults - 98 patients and 195 counseling trainees. A self-report questionnaire with visual analogue, rating, and descriptive questions was used to ascertain the extent of common psychiatric symptoms. These were analyzed to determine if there were any significant associations with various types of pregnancy outcome. Correlations and stepwise regression analyses demonstrated a cluster of existential symptoms for those surviving when their preborn siblings were aborted. The symptom expressed by the subjects in the study that was most closely associated with abortions in the first pregnancy of their mothers was, “I feel I don’t deserve to be alive.” There were different and more loosely clustered symptoms found in patients whose mother miscarried. Conclusion: there is a reasonably definable syndrome of symptoms in patients associated with the abortion of their sibling, which we have termed, the Post Abortion Survivor Syndrome.
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JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.