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."
Shelly Plutowski | EurekAlert!
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