Psychological Consequences and Strategies of Management
  • Emanuel Lewis


The study of the psychology of stillbirth has been neglected until very recently. The first paper in Britain was in 1968 by Bourne.1 Aiming to study the psychological disabilities that follow a stillbirth, he found himself studying the avoidance of stillbirth by doctors. In this germinal paper, Bourne produced statistical evidence to show that family doctors are astonishingly reluctant to know or remember anything about the patient who has had a stillbirth. He sent a questionnaire to family doctors concerning 100 cases of stillbirth which he compared with a very similar questionnaire to family doctors for 100 live births. In the stillbirth series, fewer doctors replied; two wrote, one a long letter, refusing to participate because of shortage of time; more returned totally blank forms; those who did reply tended to give little information and their spontaneous comment was impoverished compared with the doctors in the livebirth series. Bourne suggests that a stillbirth is both hard for patient and doctors to place, “a nonevent” whose nature is hard to fit in with established conceptions of an illness. He describes stillbirth as a bereavement in which there is bodily anxiety, misery, guilt, and shame, yet with no tangible person to mourn.


Black Hole Psychological Consequence Perinatal Death Early Neonatal Death Mixed Feeling 
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Copyright information

© Aubrey Milunsky, Emanuel A. Friedman, and Louis Gluck 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emanuel Lewis
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Child and Family PsychiatryCharing Cross HospitalLondon, W.6.England
  2. 2.Perinatal Bereavement UnitAdult DepartmentLondonEngland

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