YOUNG AND ABORTION
The text is written by Mikaela Blomqvist-Lyytikäinen, Assistant Senior Physician in Adolescent Psychiatry in Kymmendal’s Hospital District in Finland.
A girl in the younger teens, according to the widely prevailing psychoanalytic perception, has not yet “mentally taken her body”. The physical changes that occur in the body during puberty are so fast that the psyche usually does not keep up. It takes many years after the beginning of menstruation before the emotional life is mature for a pregnancy.
This in practice means that a girl who becomes pregnant in younger teens needs special and good mental support. The general public usually draws the conclusion that abortion is the best option just because the girl is not emotionally ready for a pregnancy. But how many think that the same applies if the girl has an abortion. The girl then gets an enormous emotional decision to cope with, where in addition to the direct hormonal mood changes she wrestles with both joy, sorrow and usually some form of guilt.
Our psyche is structured so that we normally undermine what we do not feel capable of or have the opportunity to process in the moment. The girl who has had an abortion often suppress the abortion more or less unconsciously, in order to cope with her emotional disorder and move on to the new challenges of normal youth. The girl mentally disregards the whole experience, but unfortunately the psychological wounds usually appear at some stage later in life. When the girl has become psychologically ready for a stable relationship, it is quite likely that an earlier abortion will emerge again in the consciousness or the subconscious. For example, it may be felt in the form of difficulties in reliance on their partner or fear of intimacy and proximity in a relationship. It is common and natural that the girl preferably conceals her previous abortion experiences from her partner, but it makes it difficult for the partner to understand her anxiety and problems. The girl also can suffer from severe guilt, which can be intensified by an unprecedented environment.
I will try to illustrate the consequences of a displaced abortion trauma with an example. A 16-year-old girl, let us call her Sara, was deeply depressed and had been absent a lot from school. Sara revealed that she had had an abortion just before she was 14 years old. She had had the abortion without letting her parents or other adults know. She had deliberately pushed away this experience and forced herself to move on. Eventually, however, this came to the surface, and Sara began to feel guilty.
She also began to hate herself, injure herself and tried to commit suicide. To what extent her symptoms were directly related to the displaced abortion trauma is difficult to prove, but some kind of relationship was quite obvious.
In some cases, the woman is able to push away the experience of the abortion until she starts planning to raise children. Then it is quite common for the woman to wonder if she can have children because she has previously aborted. If she does not get pregnant or if she has a miscarriage, she may start to feel guilty of her previous abortion. She thinks that she is being punished for her abortion. Many think about how it would have been if the aborted child had been born, how he / she had been as a big sister, etc.
In the above situations, it is probably about guilt, sometimes reinforced into real self-hatred, which can then lead to suicide attempts. The woman becomes depressed for one reason or another and begins to look at herself as useless. Distinctive for young people’s depression is that the mood is like a roller coaster and sometimes, for example, the guilt about abortion can be so huge that you do not see any way out of the situation. Anxiety can sometimes be so intense that you injure yourself in order to surpress the mental pain. Some girls have reported that emotional scars have been reopened when meeting friends who have childer the same age that the aborted child would have been.
Those who experience persuasive or even a forced abortion have a clearly higher risk of depression. They have not decided for themselves, which can more often lead to depression, anxiety and sometimes even suicide attempts.
As regards to teenage girls’ eating disorders, it is usually a subconscious fear of developing into a woman. For example, by ceasing to eat, she stops hormone production and hence stops physical puberty development. In any case, I have seen that the cause of anorexia has been a previous traumatic abortion. The girl has been in some form of mental chaos and tries to master the situation by (subconsciously) making sure she can no longer get pregnant by starving herself to the extent that menstrual periods end.
Today the average youth begins his/her sex life at a very young age. As I mentioned earlier, you are not mentally ready for this. Our society should focus on learning how mentally harmful it can be with sex when you are very young. It’s common nowadays for a 15-year-old girl to feel abnormal if she has not yet had intercourse, as most friends have already done so. The norms are changing and it is evident in the form of increased teenage abortions. How often do we consider how these young girls can mentally manage an abortion? If a girl is not yet mentally ready for sexual intercourse how can she psychologically handle an abortion? This leads to a sense of emotion that the girl usually has to suppress to meet school and other requirements. Förstår ej vad hon vill säga med meningen???? If the current trend continues, it helps to increase the mental health of adolescents. It is therefore important that adults take a clearer position on these issues.