Mothering the other: psychoanalytic understandings of becoming a mother to a second child

Frost, Nollaig (2014) Mothering the other: psychoanalytic understandings of becoming a mother to a second child. In: Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives. Büskens, Petra, ed. Demeter Press. ISBN 9781927335260

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Abstract

Psychoanalysis has been simultaneously accused of denigrating and idealising motherhood. Classic psychoanalysts such as Winnicott and Klein describe an infantocentric perspective of the mother-child bond that includes instinctual maternal preoccupation and a need for mothers to contain the rage directed towards them by their infant. Mothers’ failure to acquire or cope with these experiences is portrayed as harmful to the healthy development of the child. Contemporary feminist psychoanalysts have challenged this perception of the relationship. Intersubjectivity (Benjamin, 1995) and maternal ambivalence (Parker, 2005) are proposed as more balanced ways of understanding motherhood. Mothers are regarded as separate centres of being and mutual recognition of this as important to the child’s development. However such proposals still contain inherent assumptions of an exclusive one child-one mother relationship. Questions of how psychoanalytic thinking can explain how mothers negotiate and manage their maternal relationship when they have a second or subsequent child are raised.
This paper draws on empirical work with mothers expecting and then having a second child, to describe expectations and realities of the transition to second-time motherhood. Using classical and contemporary psychoanalytic ideas of motherhood, ‘ideal motherhood’, ‘good enough mothering’ and maternal ambivalence the paper explores how mothers of more than one child make sense of motherhood. It describes how becoming a mother to a second child can offer an opportunity to reappraise the notion of the ideal mother, and how, by recognising the impossibility of being the ideal mother to two children mothers can acknowledge maternal ambivalence.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Applied Health Psychology group
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research group
Item ID: 10053
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Dr N A Frost
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2013 16:43
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 08:33
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/10053

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