Assisted Reproduction: “Donor Conception for Life”, Family of choice or family of last resort?
West Midlands Institute of Psychotherapy
The task of mourning the loss of a ‘natural’ conception offers the promise of re-defining the very nature of modern family.
This talk is about the emotional and psychological impact on people who have used or are thinking of using one of the new reproductive technologies, to conceive a child. Advances in medical treatments form part of a burgeoning global fertility industry. Thus, families can be conceived, by using IVF, ICSI, by donated eggs or sperm, by surrogacy, by egg sharing schemes, with numerous medical ‘optional add-ons’. The possibility of the longed-for family can far outpace the emotional preparedness of patients and of psychotherapists.
Powerful conscious and unconscious fantasies can be aroused, which may reawaken early anxieties and developmental struggles. In the work of psychotherapy, the capacity to hold in mind and explore feelings of loss, ambivalence, shame, disappointment or inadequacy, can help parents and clinicians to relinquish the agonies suffered, along their journey. What becomes the family narrative has the potential to evolve and reach what Melanie Klein (1957) describes as the depressive position, offering a resolution, with a state of gratitude for the ‘family of choice’.
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