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Post Abortion Survivor Syndrome (PASS): signs and symptoms.

To the Editor: Observations of psychiatric patients led me to believe that some were deeply affected by pregnancy losses, particularly abortion; both theirs and their parents'. It appeared that there were deep existential conflicts, experienced by survivors that result in many psychiatric symptoms and psychophysiologic illnesses when they were spared, but those who were near and dear to them were killed or died for reasons over which they had no control. One might think that people who survive should be glad to be alive and greet every dawn with gladness; instead, studies have shown many survivors of torture, concentration camps, disaster accidents and illness have a pervasive sense of guilt, morbid thoughts, suicidal ideation suicidal ideation Suicidality Psychiatry Mental thoughts and images which hinge around committing suicide. See Suicide. , and difficulty grappling with the exigencies of life. What was first known as a "concentration camp syndrome" (1) later became the "survivor syndrome Survivor syndrome (also KZ syndrome) is a phrase which has been used to describe the set of shared reactions and behaviors of people who have survived a massive and adverse event, such as the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. ." (2) These and other symptoms not only affected the survivor but also their children. (3)

Clinical impressions seemed to indicate that survivor symptoms of persistent high anxiety and deep depression did not easily fit any DSM 1. DSM - Data Structure Manager.

An object-oriented language by J.E. Rumbaugh and M.E. Loomis of GE, similar to C++. It is used in implementation of CAD/CAE software. DSM is written in DSM and C and produces C as output.
 category. The question was, were there signs and symptoms that were sufficiently specific to constitute a syndrome for those who survived when their siblings were aborted? A sample of 293 adults (98 patients and 195 counseling trainees, of which 85% were women and 13% were men) were given an 86-item self-report questionnaire. Demographic data indicated they were a reasonably representative sample of the population. Most questions were visual analoy. Internal reliability of the questions was determined by parallel form questions. A stepwise regression In statistics, stepwise regression includes regression models in which the choice of predictive variables is carried out by an automatic procedure.[1][2][3]  of symptoms associated with various pregnancy losses of the subjects' mothers indicated that the most prominent symptom was, "I don't feel I deserve to be alive." The Table indicates the other symptoms associated with it. These symptoms were not significant when the pregnancy loss was due to a miscarriage, stillbirth Stillbirth Definition

A stillbirth is defined as the death of a fetus at any time after the twentieth week of pregnancy. Stillbirth is also referred to as intrauterine fetal death (IUFD).
 or early infant death Noun 1. infant death - sudden and unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant during sleep
cot death, crib death, SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome
.* Those who survive a mother's miscarriage feel that life is worth living. Those who had an abortion had a significantly different constellation of symptoms. Comparing the data from the patients' reports of their own pregnancy outcome and that of their mothers indicate significant correlations and a surprisingly accurate knowledge of their parent's pregnancy outcomes. Subjects who had past problems with repeated depression indicate the most likely causes were mistreatment mis·treat  
tr.v. mis·treat·ed, mis·treat·ing, mis·treats
To treat roughly or wrongly. See Synonyms at abuse.

 as a child and an abortion of a sibling. Their mother's history of having an abortion was also a prominent contributor to the subject or the subject's partner having an abortion.

It appears that the symptoms and problems of abortion survivors have a number of distinctions from those of other types of survivors. (4) This is not surprising when it is understood that, during childhood, their lives were threatened by those who were supposed to care for them in any situation. When children realize their parents are willing to sacrifice one of their own children, it is understandable that they may have deep fears of those who care for them.

If the data and clinical impressions are correct, there appears to be a definable and diagnosable syndrome of symptoms and problems that arise in people whose parents have aborted their unborn siblings: the Post Abortion Survivor Syndrome (PASS). This constellation of existential guilt, risk-taking behaviors, sense of impending im·pend  
intr.v. im·pend·ed, im·pend·ing, im·pends
1. To be about to occur: Her retirement is impending.

 doom and prepsychotic terror appears to be distinct from symptoms that may arise in other types of pregnancy-loss survival situations, from childhood mistreatment, or from an abortion experienced by the individual or the individual's partner. (5) These symptoms are specific enough to point to a likely cause being the loss of a sibling by abortion. Unless the conflicts behind this existential dilemma are addressed, it is unlikely that the expression of these, ie, the need for psychiatric admission, or repeat depressions, are likely to be successfully treated by any other modality.

Philip Ney MD, FRCP FRCP Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians
, MA, RPsych

Claudia Sheils

Marek Gajowy, MA

Department of Family Practice

University of British Columbia Locations
The Vancouver campus is located at Point Grey, a twenty-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. It is near several beaches and has views of the North Shore mountains. The 7.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


1. Chodoff P. Late effects of the concentration camp syndrome. Arch Gen Psych psych also psyche   Informal
v. psyched, psych·ing, psyches
a. To put into the right psychological frame of mind:

2. Niederland WG. Clinical observations on the "survivor syndrome". Int J Psychoanal 1968;49:313-315.

3. Krell R. Holocaust families: the survivors and their children. Compr Psychiatry 1979;20:560-568.

4. Ney PG. A consideration of abortion survivors. Child Psychiatry child psychiatry

Branch of medicine concerned with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders of childhood. It arose as a separate field in the 1920s, largely because of the pioneering work of Anna Freud.
 Hum Dev 1983;13:168-179.

5. Ney PG, Fung T, Wickett AR, et al. The effects of pregnancy loss on women's health Women's Health Definition

Women's health is the effect of gender on disease and health that encompasses a broad range of biological and psychosocial issues.
. Soc Sci Med 1994;38:1193-1200.

*The full set of data can be obtained by request from the author at: PO Box 27103, Langford RPO RPO Recruitment Process Outsourcing
RPO Recovery Point Objective (disaster recovery)
RPO Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
RPO Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
RPO Representative Poetry Online
RPO Railway Post Office
, Victoria, BC V9B 5S4.
Table. Symptoms associated with "I feel I don't deserve to be alive"

Symptoms                        coefficient   t-score  Significance

a) I am not glad to be alive    0.360         7.117    0.000
b) I feel something terrible    0.229         4.772    0.000
   is going to happen to me
c) I have tried to kill myself  0.118         2.468    0.014
d) I fear I am losing my mind   0.181         3.375    0.001
e) I have injured myself        0.132         2.685    0.008

Step wise regression with cut off P < 0.05.
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sharon valerie dutton (Member): 369 student 4/14/2008 3:30 PM
The article could have been written about me. My mother tried to abort me and succeeded in aborting my twin. I survived. A lifetime, so far of depression, low self esteem, feelings of grief and so much more have pervaded my life. Therapy has done nothing to help and I am on anti-depressants. The work of Dr Ney is remarkable. I wish he was available in England for consultation. Bless him for his work and caring

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Author:Gajowy, Marek
Publication:Southern Medical Journal
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Dec 1, 2006
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