Perinatal depression and referential activity: an exploratory study on childbirth narratives.

Sara Molgora, Valentina Fenaroli

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article


According to Wilma Bucci’s theory, psychological and emotional wellbeing are strictly associated with the ability of connecting subsymbolic experiences, tying words and images together; such a process, named referential, allows a modulation of the self regulation states. On the contrary, dissociation, at any level, among the three systems of emotional information processing (non verbal-non symbolic, non verbal-symbolic, verbal-symbolic), may often lead to psychopathology. On the basis of these assumptions, the present exploratory work aims to determine whether depressive symptoms during the perinatal period might be characterized by a greater difficulty in connecting sensory experiences, emotions and language, or, in other words, whether they can be associated to a poor referential activity (RA). More specifically, the connection between depressive symptoms and referential activity was investigated within a sample of 50 primiparous Italian women, divided into two groups according to the score obtained at the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (“depressed/at risk women” N=11; “non depressed women N=39). Women were administered a semi-structured interview about childbirth one month after delivery and their RA was measured. The Italian Weighted Referential Activity Dictionary (IWRAD) was used to perform a computer assisted analysis of the RA. Results show some differences between the referential activity scores obtained by depressed and non depressed mothers; the outcomes, which will be further discussed and analyzed during the congress, call for some clinical reflections on perinatal distress and on the possibility that assessing RA after childbirth may help the screening process and the identification of at risk situations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-176
Number of pages1
JournalMediterranean Journal of Clinical Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventXVII Congresso nazionale dell'Associazione Italiana di Psicologia - Sezione psicologia clinica e dinamica - Milazzo (Messina)
Duration: 25 Sep 201527 Sep 2015


  • perinatal depression, referential activity


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