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Couvade Syndrome

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Research Objectives

1.      Introduction

It is frequently presupposed that the bodily and psychosomatic implications of pregnancy are merely underwent and encountered by women, a notion that is immensely revealed in the conventional literature attending to this premise. Nevertheless, pregnancy as well impinges on male cohorts across aspects that are connected to their physiological and psychological formation, a notion occupying an impending magnitude in procreation explorations and study. The Couvade disorder is an occurrence which arises in developed nations around the globe. It has an effect on the male associates of pregnant females who undergo a variety of bodily and psychological indications devoid of any disease-related (pathological) foundation (Klein, 1991; Mason & Elwood, 1995). Nevertheless, one event has described a Couvade syndrome corresponding in an African-American woman when the latter’s twin sisters were heavy with child (Budur et al., 2005). In my research proposal, I’m investigating the psychological effects of Couvade syndrome in men.

2.      Background and Literature Review

Couvade syndrome is an expression employed to illustrate a condition in which a healthy man, whose partner is pregnant, faces pregnancy-associated symptoms. Some research proposes that Couvade syndrome is universal, yet not acknowledged as incorporating or comprising a pathological nature. Additional studies are required to decide whether Couvade syndrome is a bodily state with mental grounds.

Three central sets of symptoms commonly linked to the syndrome were recognized by Conner and Denson (1990). The first set involved the gastrointestinal indications of vomiting, indigestion, abdominal ache, swelling, and appetite swings. The second set involved upper respiratory disorders such as colds, inhalation difficulties and epistaxis, as well as pains like toothache, leg spasms, back pain and urogenital pains. The third set reported mental indications like alterations in sleeping patterns, nervousness and worry, gloominess, reduced libido and agitation. The signs were affiliated with pregnancy across a chronological process, and their path seemed to adopt a U-shaped trend over the length of development (Schodt, 1989), as the signs show in the first quarter, provisionally withdraw in the second and recur within the third trimester. This was evident through the subjects’ timing of medical sessions (Lipkin & Lamb, 1982). The symptoms naturally end unexpectedly at delivery or suddenly during the postpartum phase.

Surpluses of theories have been suggested to justify the source of the Couvade syndrome. Psychoanalytical premises suggest that it originates from the man’s jealousy of the female’s generative capability (Bohem, 1930; Rapheal-Leff, 1991). A different standpoint states that it takes place because when a man is expectant, pregnancy operates as a medium for the reappearance of uncertainty and continual fluctuation in attitudes and emotions, and oedipal conflicts (Gerzi & Berman, 1981; Barclay et al., 1996; Bartlett, 2004). Further psychoanalytical theories suggest an association between the condition and the man’s contention with his unborn infant (Malthie et al., 1980; Kapfhammer & Mayer, 1996). Thus it isn’t shocking that those male cohorts in such studies have resorted to psychiatric consultancy for cure, as the nature of the syndrome and its malfunction are passed to physicians for diagnosis. Investigations surveying a psychoanalytical cause for the syndrome are mostly case reports, which are logically inclined to personal understanding and not easy to simplify. Psychosocial theories suggest that the syndrome is an imprudent approach and reaction to the confinement of men to lower or outer limits throughout pregnancy (Mayer & Kapfhammer, 1993; Chandler & Field, 1997). Yet, females refuse this, and dispute for the augmented and active partaking of men during pregnancy and labor (Masoni et al., 1994; Polomeno, 1998). Psychosocial premises additionally suggest that the syndrome emerges because of men’s intermediary crisis to forthcoming fatherhood (Jordan 1990; Imle, 1990; Klein, 1991). In "Psycho-Evolutionary" speculation, it is deemed that couvade is a means to curtail sexual disparities throughout pregnancy and birth.

3.      Purpose, aim, and objective of Study

The underlying principle for using a qualitative method to examine the Couvade syndrome is initially, the actuality that the condition is still inadequately recognized and comprehended by those afflicted and by the healthcare expertise they seek advice from, hence this requires the need for a self-regulating and thorough examination of male partners’ personal insights and experiences of it. This method is expected to expose perceptions into the origin of the symptoms and their connection to pregnancy. Subsequently, the qualitative approach would generate a different outlook in accepting the psychological male cohorts’ insights of the condition, in contrast to the presently prime medical views within the literature. Furthermore, it facilitates the study of the syndrome in an adapted approach, proffering an alternative to entities’ social and cultural frameworks in the practice. At length, the manner is perfectly appropriate to tolerate further theoretical involvements to be drawn out or obtainable ones to be corroborated or expanded. The ultimate purpose of this study is to assess the psychological symptoms of Couvade syndrome in men, and scrutinize male partners’ experiences of pregnancy, counting their emotions and features of participation, to evaluate consensus with contemporary theoretical suggestions for the syndrome.

Subject Recruitment

4.      Subjects

  1. Subject Characteristics:   A purposive sample of 16 men will be recruited from the Foetal Medicine Unit of a big training hospital in London which provides service to a large Asian and Afro-Caribbean populace. Ages are over 18 year old literate subjects.
  1. Selection Criteria:  The subjects of this study were purposively selected because they have all encountered at least 5 physical and mental signs whose onset matched with the pregnancy.
  1. Special Populations:  Inclusion and Exclusion criteria were recognized to diminish the probability of confusing symptoms. Ages are all over 18.
  1. Recruitment Source:  A purposive sample of 16 men will be recruited from the Foetal Medicine Unit of a big training hospital in London. A letter of consent will not be requisite, as the subjects are above 18 years old, but permission for the study was attained from the Local Research and Ethics Committee.
  1. Recruitment Methods:  Study participants were telephoned to arrange a suitable time for the interview.
  1. Informed Consent Process:  permission for the study was attained from the Local Research and Ethics Committee.
  1. Study Location:  Subjects will be interviewed in the participants’ homes during the night, and the interview time will last between 60-90 minutes.
  1. Potential Problems:  Problems involving subject identification, recruitment or data collection are not expected.

5.      Research design and Method

An inductive approach based upon the analytic procedures of Colaizzi (1978) andBoyatzis (1998) will be employed, specifically thematic content analysis which will run concomitantlyin conjunction with the process of data collection. A specialized transcriber will carry out therecording of the tape-recorded dialogues, and the male interviewee researcherwill carry out the analysis. Three independent examiners will be called to interpret the interview records to authenticate the themes. Three contributors will also appraise their transcripts to guarantee honesty, correctness and resemblance of the data before scrutiny.

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