Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 54 Issue 3 (September 1981), Pages 203-297

Emotional reactions of expectant fathers to their wives' first pregnancy (pages 259-265)

A group of 51 expectant fathers, whose wives were in the last three months of their first pregnancy, was compared to a control group of 51 married men without children. On the Anxiety Scale Questionnaire the expectant fathers were significantly higher in overall anxiety (both overt and covert), as well as in tension and apprehensiveness.

The Blacky Picture Test indicated stronger Oedipal intensity, sibling rivalry and guilt feelings in the experimental group than in the control group. Clinical interviews with six of the subjects revealed considerable ambivalence, frequently related to re‐aroused infantile fantasies, feminine identifications, castration fears and Oedipal themes, as well as attempts to defend against the ambivalent feelings through negation, denial, isolation, repression, intellectualization and reaction formation. While the higher levels of anxiety could be understood as a reaction to a reality stress situation, the Blacky Test results and the interview material point to more specific dynamic factors, and support several psychoanalytic hypotheses about the significance of pregnancy for the prospective father. The inner conflict aroused contributes to the intensified anxiety, which is likely to be overdetermined.

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