The experience of ‘Entrapped Grief’ following traumatic abortion

Linda Finlay


Some abortions can result in prolonged, complex grief reactions where the effects endure in problematic ways.  Research findings suggest that such women suffer a turbulent spiral of often contradictory emotions and, if insufficiently acknowledged at the time of the abortion by self or other, this emotional turmoil can become pushed down and disenfranchised. This paper discusses the nature of this entrapped grief by reviewing the literature and reporting on some phenomenological case study research. A final section discusses integrative psychotherapy approaches to working in this area. Better understanding of the experience of traumatic abortion may enable therapists to be more present to this phenomenon, in particular the voicelessness some clients may experience, rendering them unable to process their feelings about the event and associated loss.


abortion; complicated grief; integrative psychotherapy; trauma

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