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

Book chapter


Frost, N. 2014. Mothering the other: psychoanalytic understandings of becoming a mother to a second child. in: Büskens, P. (ed.) Mothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives Demeter Press.
Chapter titleMothering the other: psychoanalytic understandings of becoming a mother to a second child
AuthorsFrost, N.
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.

Research GroupApplied Health Psychology group
Qualitative and Mixed Methods Research group
Book titleMothering and Psychoanalysis: Clinical, Sociological and Feminist Perspectives
EditorsBüskens, P.
PublisherDemeter Press
ISBN
Hardcover9781927335260
Publication dates
Print01 Jul 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited19 Mar 2013
Output statusPublished
Web address (URL)http://demeterpress.org/books/mothering-and-psychoanalysis-clinical-sociological-and-feminist-perspectives/
LanguageEnglish
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