Brief Article
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World J Psychiatr. Mar 22, 2013; 3(1): 1-7
Published online Mar 22, 2013. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v3.i1.1
Mental health and polygamy: The Syrian case
Alean Al-Krenawi
Alean Al-Krenawi, Department of Social Work, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel
Author contributions: Al-Krenawi A solely contributed to this paper.
Correspondence to: Alean Al-Krenawi, President of Achva Academic College and Professor at the Department of Social Work, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel.
Telephone: +972-8-6472333 Fax: +972-8-6472933
Received: June 22, 2012
Revised: November 29, 2012
Accepted: February 7, 2013
Published online: March 22, 2013

AIM: To examine the psychological, self-esteem (SE), family function, marital satisfaction, life satisfaction and degree of agreement with the practice of polygamy among polygamous women with a control group from monogamous women in Syria.

METHODS: Convenience sample of 136 women, 64 of whom were wives in polygamous marriages and 72 were wives in monogamous marriages participated in this study. A snowball method of sampling was used, conducted by undergraduate local female students trained to collect data according to culturally competent methods. The following research instruments were deployed: the symptoms checklist-90, the Rosenberg SE, the Life Satisfaction, family function and marital satisfaction.

RESULTS: Findings revealed that women in polygamous marriages experienced lower SE, less life satisfaction, less marital satisfaction and more mental health symptomatology than women in monogamous marriages. Many of the mental health symptoms were different; noteworthy were elevated somatization, depression, hostility and psychoticism and their general severity index was higher. Furthermore, “first wife syndrome” was examined in polygamous families, comparing first with second and third wives in polygamous marriages. Findings indicated that first wives reported on more family problems, less SE, more anxiety, more paranoid ideation, and more psychoticism than second and third wives.

CONCLUSION: These results are best understood through consideration of the socio-cultural and economic realities facing these women. Implications for mental health practice, policy and further research are discussed.

Keywords: Polygamy, Monogamy, Symptomatology, Self-esteem, Life satisfaction, Family function, Marital satisfaction