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Pedder, J. (1990). Mother, Madonna, Whore. The Idealization and Denigration of Motherhood: By Estela Welldon. London: Free Association Books. 1988. Pp. 158.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 17:397.

(1990). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 17:397

Mother, Madonna, Whore. The Idealization and Denigration of Motherhood: By Estela Welldon. London: Free Association Books. 1988. Pp. 158.

Review by:
Jonathan Pedder

Dr Estela Welldon is well known in the U.K. and beyond as Consultant Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic in London (a descendant from the Institute for the Scientific Treatment of Delinquency founded by Edward Glover), which specializes in the analytic psychotherapy of sexual deviance and criminality. This original book arises from her study of the neglected area of female perversions, based on twenty-five years experience of clinical work with women patients. She is also a group analyst whose experience in learning about women has been enriched by working with groups of professional women in Europe. She has found the two roles complementary and the book is partly a result of her observation that the difficulties which women with severe problems present in clinical practice are shared to some degree by many other women in these groups. At the Portman she has been responsible for seminars on female perversions and the ideas resulting therefrom were expanded into a lecture on 'Motherhood and sexual perversion', later to be delivered at the Menninger Foundation, scene of some of her own earlier formative training en route to London.

The book is the product of this rich and varied experience and is full of compelling clinical examples. The author thinks her gender may have been an advantage: I would think also her combined psychoanalytic and group analytic vantage points; and perhaps not least her being originally from South America with the advantage of the outsider who both sees more objectively and is confided in more readily.

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