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Bálint, A. (1949). Love for the Mother and Mother-Love. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 30:251-259.

(1949). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 30:251-259

Love for the Mother and Mother-Love

Alice Bálint

The relation of mother-child has been at the centre of psycho-analytic interest right from the beginning. Its importance became even greater when, in the exploration of our cases, it was found necessary to go regularly back into the pre-oedipal times. As this is the earliest object relation the beginnings of which reach into the nebulous times where the frontiers of ego and external world merge into each other, it is of paramount importance both theoretically and practically. Thus it is quite understandable that each of us has tried his mettle on the mother-child relation. My contribution to this problem is mainly an attempt at a résumé, and I can only claim originality for the point of view from which the summing up was carried out.


Clinical examples may serve as a starting point. I begin with a case in which love for the mother was expressed in a particularly peculiar way. This was the case of a woman patient whose main symptom was that she had to be the slave of her mother. Her unsuccessful attempts at liberation soon became revealed as reactions to disappointments, for in reality she loved her mother and made enormous sacrifices in order to try to satisfy her, which, however, she never succeeded in doing. It was astonishing that the daughter was absolutely helpless in face of the unreasonable reproaches of her mother and reacted to them with guilt feelings which were quite incomprehensible to her. An extraordinarily strong masculinity complex gave the first explanation of these guilt feelings.

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