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Postpartum Psychosis

February 22, 1987

While your article on postpartum psychosis was most helpful, alerting people to the increased vulnerability of women (and babies) post utero , many of the experts persist in blaming the women or their hormones for this process. While the women may indeed have trouble delineating their emotional needs and while hormone fluctuations may affect women in different ways, the real question is why it happens to some women and not others.

In modern times the extended family has been eliminated from the birth process, meaning our mothers and grandmothers who have had previous experience with childbirth are not included in the process. This very fact suggests how we have gone against all previous cultural experience, in which women who had "been there" helped other women go through the changes. The fact that one of your doctors suggests that the fathers' participation helps prevent this problem suggests how much a supportive family member means in preventing this "hormonal nightmare."

Let us face the fact that modern medicine takes the most vulnerable period of the woman's life, her pregnancy, psychologically rewards her for developing a dependency on a typically male doctor who drops her as soon as his so-called "job," delivering her baby is complete. . . .

(What we know about) child-development documents the profound problems that occur when our culture does not support us in these primary functions. And our psychiatric hospitals and clinics are full of people damaged by our cultural beliefs and blindness to the infant within us all.

DONNA G. FOREMAN

Marina del Rey

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