The British Journal of Psychiatry
New Data on Marriage and Mental Disease: The Incidence of Psychoses in the Widowed and the Divorced
Ørnulv ØDegård

Summary

The high morbidity from psychoses in the single and the divorced as compared with the married and the widowed is discussed, on the basis of statistical and clinical material. It seems that a selection by marriage with regard to personality traits and mental health is the main cause, while a protective influence of married life could not be positively shown to exist. The problem of selection versus protection is felt to be a useful formulation of the more general problem of constitution versus environment, or of nature versus nurture. But a statistical investigation based upon the incidence of psychoses is naturally too crude in its method and too restricted in its scope to warrant anything but the most tentative conclusions.