Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mayo Clinic study reveals new fathers struggle with obsessional thoughts too


Both fathers and mothers have distressing thoughts after the birth of a baby, according to a new Mayo Clinic study published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.

In a survey mailed to 300 childbearing women and their partners, participants were asked to report distressing thoughts, such as "My baby is going to die from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome)" or "What if I drown my baby while bathing her?" Overall, seven categories of thoughts were studied: suffocation or SIDS, accidents, intentional harm, losing the infant, illness, unacceptable sexual thoughts and contamination. Of those who responded, 69 percent of mothers and 58 percent of fathers reported having these types of thoughts.

"Everyone occasionally has thoughts that are contradictory to their moral or ethical beliefs," says Jon Abramowitz, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic psychologist who carried out this study with Katherine Moore, M.D., a Mayo Clinic psychiatrist. "The difference is that people who develop problems with obsessional thoughts manage those thoughts differently. Usually we dismiss disgusting thoughts -- such as pushing our baby out the window -- as something we would never do. However, people who develop problems tend to believe that thinking the thought means they are bad people who might actually act upon the repulsive thought."

The fact that new fathers have intrusive thoughts moves the debate away from previous thinking that this was a female problem brought on by hormonal fluctuations after childbirth.

"Most likely a variety of factors influence a person who has obsessional thoughts," points out Dr. Abramowitz. "How people’s brains are hard-wired may play a role, as well as how people are trained as a child to think about themselves or the importance of their thoughts. Stress situations, like the period after a child is born, definitely increase the likelihood that obsessional thoughts will occur."

The difference between obsessional thoughts, which will not lead to violence, and psychotic thoughts, which may lead to the rare case of harm against the child, is subtle but important. In the case of obsessional thoughts, parents are repulsed, disgusted and frightened by the thought of harming their child. The person tries to resist these thoughts. In the case of psychotic thoughts, parents view their thoughts as realistic and rational.

Whenever parents have difficulty controlling recurring thoughts of harm to their child, they should seek professional care. Whether thoughts are depressed, psychotic or obsessional should be left to a professional to determine. In either case, the doctor will be able to prescribe medications and/or therapy to help bring relief.

The findings of this study are of particular importance to perinatal educators who might be able to circumvent the issue by informing soon-to-be parents that having intrusive, unwelcome thoughts is normal, and the best way to deal with them is simply to dismiss them.

Shelly Plutowski
507-284-2417 (days)

Lee Aase
507-266-2442 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)

Shelly Plutowski | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Physicists made crystal lattice from polaritons

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

20.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Thawing permafrost produces more methane than expected

20.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>