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Lewin, V. (1989). Estela V. Welldon. Mother, Madonna, Whore: The Idealisation and Denigration of Motherhood. London: Free Association Books, 1988. Cloth, £30.00. Paperback, £10.95.. J. Child Psychother., 15(2):126-127.

(1989). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 15(2):126-127

Estela V. Welldon. Mother, Madonna, Whore: The Idealisation and Denigration of Motherhood. London: Free Association Books, 1988. Cloth, £30.00. Paperback, £10.95.

Review by:
Vivienne Lewin

This is a most welcome book, dealing as it does with female sexuality and perversions from a uniquely female point of view, rather than overlaying it on a base of the accepted theories of male sexuality and perversions. In both men and women, “perversion involves a deep split between genital sexuality as a living — or loving — force and what appears to be sexual, but actually corresponds to much more primitive stages where pregenitality pervades the whole picture”. Dr. Welldon suggests that women sometimes use the function of heterosexual intercourse for perverse aims and that whereas in men, the perverse act is aimed at an outside part-object, in women it is against themselves or their creations. The book focusses on how women's bodies and roles in society, but most particularly their relationships with their mothers, can predispose them to perverse relationships in their own lives. The author suggests that because motherhood is idealised by society, we prefer not to acknowledge that it might be a vehicle for perverse relationships, but expect women by intuition and nature to become perfect mothers.

Dr. Welldon starts by outlining the current theories on sexual perversion and how the differentness of women's sexuality has been largely ignored. She leads up, in the next two chapters, through an exploration of women's attitudes to their bodies and their offspring, and the “power of the womb”, to her main thesis, that “motherhood provides an excellent vehicle for some women to exercise perverse and perverting attitudes towards their offspring, and to retaliate against their own mothers”. Thereafter she looks at the causes and consequences of this in the areas of incest and prostitution.

The

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