"separation guilt" in women who initiate divorce

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This paper explores the "separation guilt" of women who initiate divorce. The paper argues that the gender-specific processes of separation individuation and socialization that women undergo in childhood make them vulnerable to similar guilt feelings when they initiate divorce, only towards the husband they are leaving. It further argues that these feelings may impair their post-divorce adjustment. The paper illustrates these points with two case studies, one showing how the woman's separation guilt thwarted the development of new intimacy, the other showing how it impaired her maternal functioning. Recommendations are made for treatment and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • "Separation guilt"
  • Divorce initiation
  • Post-divorce adjustment
  • Women


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