Date of Award:

1969

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Glendon Casto

Abstract

An in-depth personality and intellectual evaluation of a group of hermaphroditic children residing in the state of Oklahoma was undertaken in this study. The following techniques were utilized in order to extensively study the impact of this anomaly on the families of these children: psychological tests, parental interviews by a social worker, and diagnostic play interviews conducted by the investigator. It was the purpose of this study to examine the psychological impact of sexual ambiguity on the child and his parents.

There were no significant differences between the two groups on any of the tests given. This may be attributed to the small sample size.

Certain trends seemed apparent but they could also have been effected by the limited sample. These trends were:

  1. The play activities and interests of the children appeared to be age appropriate in relation to their socio-economic background. There was, however, a tendency on the part of the older children to prefer activities which were more masculine than feminine in nature.

  2. Few close heterosexual relationships were mentioned by the subjects.

  3. Four of the children stated that they would like to make nursing a career.

  4. The three older children seemed more aware of their medical condition than the younger subjects and were aware that they were different in some ways from the normal population.

  5. The three older subjects seemed more affected by the anomaly than the younger ones and were more sensitive to it and to relationships with others.

  6. As a group there seemed to be nothing unusual in their typical daily routine except for the medication which had to be taken regularly.

  7. The children seemed to be self-conscious and reluctant in describing themselves to the investigator particularly as it pertained to their medical anomaly.

  8. An optimistic philosophy of life was expressed by the subjects in which emphasis was placed upon religious values, a desire to help others, and an ambition to live the golden rule.

  9. In the children's explanations of how they would like to be different, reference was made to their medical condition.

  10. In no case did the birth of a hermaphroditic child into a family inhibit future conceptions and subsequent births.

  11. All families but one felt that they needed greater medical understanding and guidance with regard to the anomaly as well as with proper management of the condition once it had been diagnosed.

  12. It was felt by four groups of parents that desirable sex change should occur in the child as early as possible, preferably before three years of age.

  13. All families tended to keep the sexual anomaly issue closed and limited to their immediate family.

  14. It appeared that socio-economic factors made little difference in the parents' general concern for their child and its adequate adjustment to the environment.

  15. Accessible and comprehensible medical information about hermaphroditism is almost unavailable to those desiring it because of the current infrequency of incidence and variations in condition.

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