Self psychology, Buddhism, and mindfulness meditation: An integrated conceptualization and treatment approach for women experiencing post-abortion distress
Abortion is a complex phenomenon experienced by millions of women every year. Post-abortion distress, operationally characterized by feelings such as guilt, regret, sadness, depression, bereavement, and anxiety is found in approximately 9–26% of women who have an abortion. This dissertation reviews the literature surrounding the experience of abortion, including the psychodynamics of abortion and its relationship with mourning. Seeking to better understand the concepts discovered, a thorough review of the theories of self psychology, Buddhism, and mindfulness meditation is provided. Using these frameworks as lenses, the experiences of abortion and post-abortion distress are explored. This dissertation integrates several key elements of the aforementioned schools of thought, ultimately seeking to conceptualize the experience of post-abortion distress. In light of the integration, psychotherapy is discussed including implications for treatment, the therapeutic relationship, and the therapist. Following a descriptive analysis of these concepts, the discussion offers a summary, potential cultural implications, limitations, and recommendations for future theoretical and empirical efforts.