Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 54 Issue 2 (June 1981), Pages 93-201

In search of correspondences between age at psychiatric breakdown and parental age at death—‘Anniversary reactions’ (pages 111-120)

The phenomenon of psychiatric breakdown occurring when the subject reaches the age his/her parent was at death, misleadingly referred to by Hilgard as an ‘anniversary reaction’, is examined. It is contrasted to breakdown occurring at the anniversary of the death of a significant person and compared with the concept of nemesis as described by Chapman.

An attempt is made to assess the incidence and clinical characteristics of patients breaking down at times of such age correspondence in samples of early and late mother‐bereaved women from North‐East Scotland. It is concluded that the phenomenon is not common and is not associated with specific clinical features. Some illustrative cases are presented.

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