A total of 576 women aged 18–65, drawn from an area in Edinburgh, were interviewed. Data on life events and long-term difficulties over a six-month period prior to interview were gathered and classified according to area of life, the Bedford system, the Edinburgh system, and the independence of the event or difficulty from the subject's own actions. The highest rates of Bedford system ‘provoking’ situations were found in the working class, among those not employed, among women with three or more children under 14, and in the separated, divorced, widowed or cohabitating group. Similar findings emerged for hopeless situations involving choice or loss. Dependent situations were four times more common in the youngest group than the oldest, and showed a high rate among those divorced, separated, widowed, or cohabiting. It is suggested that both dependent and independent life situations should be studied.