Be Not “Anti” or “Pro”—But a Tireless Advocate
“Abortion Trauma Syndrome” does not exist in the DSM nomenclature. But this is not the same thing as saying that patients—both female and male—do not present to psychiatrists asking for help in dealing with the emotional aftermath of having made this decision, just as they come with the need to work through any other issue that carries with it high emotional valence. There are no scientific studies on most of the unique and personal issues that clinicians confront daily, but that doesn’t mean that we refuse to listen with caring thoughtfulness to whatever concerns our patients choose to express.
As we try desperately to think of our syndromes as science (to my knowledge there will be no definitive biological illness markers in all of DSM-V), we can probably help our cause more by not declaring ourselves “anti” or “pro” anything in the political realm—but rather as ceaseless advocates for those who are troubled for whatever reason and come to us seeking our help.
M. Richard Fragala, MD
Distinguished Life Fellow
American Psychiatric Association
A Misuse of Science
I found the article “Abortion Trauma Syndrome” disturbing, but not surprising given the politicized agenda of the American Psychiatric Association and its leadership.
While I fully agree that there is little to no scientific data to support the existence of “Abortion Trauma Syndrome,” APA pro-abortion advocates are disingenuous when they decry this “fabricated mental disorder.” APA’s pro-abortion stance is a political one without empirical evidence in methodologically sound studies that abortion on demand is necessary to promote or maintain women’s mental health.
Also, as much as many of us would wish it to be different, there are many “syndromes” and disorders (Rape Trauma Syndrome, Munchausen by Proxy to name a couple) that lack adequate research evidence for inclusion into DSM, but are frequently bandied about, without producing the emotional and aggressive response on the part of APA and its leadership that this subject has.
We should all refrain, from misusing our positions as psychiatrists to promote the misuse of science to advance our causes. Dr Nada Stotland is a vociferous advocate of abortion on demand. Her advocacy for abortion rights, including partial birth abortion, is as bereft of scientific support as the position of antiabortion forces who claim that abortion produces psychopathology.
Dr Stotland is correct that the issue of abortion is a moral one, not so that it is a religious one. Perhaps there are those in the APA who believe that labeling a moral imperative against abortion as “religious” marginalizes it in some way. For those of us in the APA who believe that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life, it is frustrating to see our dues monies wasted on political causes with which we not only disagree, but also find morally repugnant.
The APA is well on its way to becoming as unrepresentative of its membership as the AMA.
Eileen P. Ryan, DO
Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences
University of Virginia Health System