The author is a psychoanalyst and research psychologist. This paper is based on a lecture given at the British Institute of Psychoanalysis, to a day conference entitled ‘Pyschoanalysis and Women’ 20.11.82. Her address is 13 Thurlow Road, London NW3.
Myths and Modes of Motherhood
Version of Record online: 5 JUN 2007
British Journal of Psychotherapy
Volume 1, Issue 1, pages 6–30, September 1984
How to Cite
Raphael-Lef, J. (1984), Myths and Modes of Motherhood. British Journal of Psychotherapy, 1: 6–30. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0118.1984.tb00887.x
- Issue online: 5 JUN 2007
- Version of Record online: 5 JUN 2007
ABSTRACT: It is postulated that some metapsychological concepts, once popularized, acquire the reified status of a Myth which may outlive its usefulness and/or validity and yd remain influential beyond its time.
Ten psychoanalytical ‘myths’ relating to femininity, mothers and motherhood are to examined in the tight of historical, social and theoretical developments:
1. The myth of the castrated mother
2. ‘Anatomy is destiny’
3, Female passivity and masochism
4. Baby = penis
5. Femininity is unfulfilled before motherhood
6. Maternal instinct
7. There is a right way to mother
8. Asocial, antisocial or sociable infant?
9. Mother-baby symmetry of needs
10. Mothering the exclusive, full-time commitment of the biological mother.
Two contrasting modes of mothering are formulated, each illustrating different elements of these myths.
The conclusion is that a theoretical framework describing or prescribing femininity and/or motherhood a single, static entity, inevitably obscures the complex Variations between women and mother, in their personal and historical development over time, Adherenre to outdated myths prejudices our psychotherapeutic work with female patience.