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Furman, E. (1996). On Motherhood. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44S(Supplement):429-447.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44S(Supplement):429-447

On Motherhood

Erna Furman

In working with mothers' responses to the total or partial loss of their child, it becomes evident that, at one level, they experience such a loss as an injury to the integrity of their body ego, which includes the child. Their capacity to invest the child as a bodily part of themselves as well as to release him and transfer bodily ownership to him in the course of personality growth necessitates flexible body boundaries. This characteristic of the female body ego is both gratifying and threatening to the mother as well as to others. It also has a profound impact on the growing boy's and girl's attempts to differentiate themselves from the mother bodily and to delineate their own sex-specific body ego. The nature and outcome of this difficult process has a significant effect on women's and men's attitudes to motherhood. These attitudes contain many defensive measures against the primitive anxieties of this early level, contributing perhaps also to the frequent neglect of motherhood in theories of female psychology.

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