Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Commentary: Is caesarean section a treatment for medical paranoia?

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 19 April 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1187
  1. Hilda Bastian, maternity consumer advocatea,
  2. Cathy Conroy, mental health consumer advocatea
  1. a Consumer Network of the Cochrane Collaboration
  1. Correspondence to: Hilda Bastian Australasian Cochrane Centre, Flinders Medical Centre, Bedford Park SA 5042, Australia.


    The argument that a caesarean section, imposed with physical force on an unwilling woman, could actually be good for her mental wellbeing came as a complete shock to us. Distress and depression after caesarean section are common, even when a woman has consented to, or even welcomed, the surgery.1 2 3 4 It is painful to contemplate what an enforced caesarean section would be like, particularly for a woman with paranoid schizophrenia.

    Going under anaesthetic is something that scares many women. For most of us, those fears will be about whether we will wake up and how our bodies and babies will cope. Maybe we might later wonder: “Is that baby really mine?” The aftermath …

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