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The psychology of assisted reproduction — or psychology assisting its reproduction?

Walker, I. and Broderick, P. (1999) The psychology of assisted reproduction — or psychology assisting its reproduction? Australian Psychologist, 34 (1). pp. 38-44.

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This paper examines the role played by psychology and psychologists in the treatment of infertile people, and focuses especially on issues where donor gametes or embryos are used. Psychology has argued strongly for a “therapeutic injunction” in which people undergoing treatment are urged to talk to others; are advised that it is better to tell a child of the method of his/her conception and of his/her genetic background; and are advised that it is better for donors, recipients, and children to have access to information about one another and to know one another. We question this for several reasons. First, there are no data to support the claim that full disclosure produces better mental and family health than nondisclosure. Second, donors and recipients overwhelmingly prefer information, especially identifying information, to be kept private and confidential. Third, in making this prescription, psychology is “psychologising” a physical problem, assuming psychological problems must exist in infertile people which must be treated. The paper concludes by suggesting that psychology and psychologists have been attempting to reproduce psychology, perhaps at the expense of developing a better understanding of the psychology of reproduction.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: Australian Psychological Society
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