False pregnancy: tricking the mind or tricking the body?


Mind and body are interconnected. And if a woman is obsessed with the desire to become pregnant, the brain can begin to deceive the body. And then the stomach and chest grow, weight increases, signs of toxicosis appear. A woman can even feel the “stirring” of the fetus, lactation begins. The scientific name for this phenomenon is pseudocyesis. And in humans, it occurs about 1-6 times in 22,000 genuine pregnancies.

According to one of the versions, the English queen “Bloody” Mary, who lived in the 16th century, had a pseudociesis. To give birth to an heir to her husband – the Spanish prince Philip II, the son of Emperor Charles V, was for her a question not only of continuing the dynasty, but also of maintaining status and relations. The prince was handsome and 12 years younger than his middle-aged, by the standards of that time, 38-year-old wife.

For many years, Tatyana Solomatina, who has worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist, in her book “Advice for Those Who Fled in,” tells about a patient who obsessively dreamed of having a child so that her lover would divorce her wife and marry her: the woman “has stopped monthly women’s troubles. She felt sick and had bouts of vomiting in the morning. All other signs of early preeclampsia, such as edema, were evident. She became irritable beyond measure. Her breasts have enlarged. All these are signs of hormonal changes in pregnant women. Somehow the belly began to grow too quickly – it is already noticeable. And to top it all off, the pregnancy test is positive. “

The future father divorced, they went to see a doctor – and on the ultrasound it turned out that the pregnancy was false. Solomatina adds that the patient subsequently gave birth to a healthy child to a man, becoming pregnant for real.

It also happens that the body deceives the mind. The cessation of menstruation, bloating with constipation can serve as signals to the brain about a possible pregnancy, and then the pituitary gland increases the production of hormones that prepare the body for the birth of a child. In addition to the passionate desire to have children, the appearance of pseudociesis can also be promoted by the opposite – a strong fear of becoming pregnant.

Psychotherapist and journalist Jennifer Drapkin describes a case where a false pregnancy unexpectedly saved a family relationship. After learning that a friend of her 19-year-old son was in labor, a depressed 36-year-old woman felt excruciating pain in her stomach. The sensations were more and more like contractions.

An hour later, exhausted and agitated, she experienced almost the entire range of sensations that occur during childbirth. The heroine of the story had four children, and her body perfectly remembered what happened to him in such a situation.

False pregnancy is a test for the mind and body, and it is caused by both mental and somatic reasons

Needless to say, sudden pregnancies and childbirth were false. The psychological background is interesting: the woman did not like her son’s girlfriend and was against them becoming parents at a fairly young age. Having experienced childbirth at the same time as her daughter-in-law, the newly-born grandmother changed her mind, accepted the situation and felt that she was ready to hug her son, and his girlfriend, and the newborn.

False, or rather, sympathetic pregnancy also occurs in men, in which case it is called kuweid. The stronger sex may show signs such as weight gain, nausea, headache, irritability, back and abdominal pain, especially while the spouse is giving birth.

A study in which 81 male-to-be fathers took part found that about half of the men gained weight in the third trimester. Perhaps this is a manifestation showing the connection of a man with a female part, some doctors believe.

“A false pregnancy is one of the clearest examples of the closest relationship between the mind and the body,” says clinical psychologist Lidia Fedorova. – The expectation of the birth of a child is one of the central events of the life path for a person of any sex, the final transition from childhood to an adult and parental role.

In cultures of different times and peoples of pregnancy, great importance has always been attached. Giving birth to many myths and legends, this deep theme is colored by a large number of unconscious fantasies in the psyche of every person, be it a man or a woman. For some people, such a powerful charge of these fantasies can literally manifest in the body and result in a false pregnancy.

It is noteworthy that the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud in his practice came across such a case, which gave a great impetus to the development of the theory of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy in general.

It is important to consider that false pregnancy is a test for the mind and body, and it is caused by both mental and somatic reasons. Such cases can only be managed by psychotherapists with good clinical education and work experience in conjunction with a gynecologist, endocrinologist or, if necessary, with other specialists. “

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