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Stone, R. (2015). Can the Breast Feed the Mother Too? Tracing Maternal Subjectivity in Toni Morrison's Beloved. Brit. J. Psychother., 31(3):298-310.

(2015). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 31(3):298-310

Rozsika Parker Prize 2014

Can the Breast Feed the Mother Too? Tracing Maternal Subjectivity in Toni Morrison's Beloved

Rebecca Stone

Breastfeeding tends to elicit strong feelings in mothers as well as impassioned rhetoric in our cultural discourse. Psychoanalytic thinkers have focused extensively on the infant's experience at the breast. Surprisingly, much less theoretical attention has been given to the mother's experience of breastfeeding. I begin with my own experience of struggling with this early stage of motherhood and with understanding why this act seemed to hold such emotional power. By tracing the theme of breastfeeding in Toni Morrison's Beloved, I attempt to draw out ideas about the breastfeeding mother as a subject rather than an object. I argue that the novel's depiction of breastfeeding supports understanding the maternal body as a source of ambivalence and creativity for the mother as well as for the infant. Drawing mainly on the work of Melanie Klein, Donald Winnicott and Julia Kristeva, I explore through literary readings how breastfeeding comes to stir up such passionate and often difficult feelings for mothers.

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