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Pines, D. (1998). Mothering. Toward a New Psychoanalytic Construction. By Silvia Vegetti Finzi. Translated by Kathrine Jason. New York/London: The Guilford Press, 1996. 196 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):522-523.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(3):522-523

Mothering. Toward a New Psychoanalytic Construction. By Silvia Vegetti Finzi. Translated by Kathrine Jason. New York/London: The Guilford Press, 1996. 196 pp.

Dinora Pines

Silvia Vegetti Finzi's book develops contemporary ideas on mothering toward an imaginative view of feminine creative impulses that a woman may develop throughout her life cycle. With two clinical examples of young girls from her psychoanalytic practice, she illustrates the difficult passage from the status of being a little girl to that of a mature woman. Using familiar theories of Freud and Lacan, she shows that the gradual internal change and acquisition of a sexual identity entail the relinquishment of omnipotence. Every step forward in maturation also implies a loss in parts of the self.

The transformation from a little girl to a woman in traditional theory requires a long and complex elaboration in which there are four fundamental moments: the disappearance of the imaginary phallus, the full body becoming concave, recognition of the complementary selves, and the integration of the reproductive process into the body image. “Phallic castration” repeats an earlier experience of loss, such as birth and weaning. The writings of women analysts in particular, transcending Freud's earlier ideas, do much to contradict these early views. For example, the notion of the imaginary phallus can be much disputed.

Each reviewer finds a particular subject in a book under consideration that arouses a particular interest. This reviewer found the section in Finzi's book on classical myths especially striking. The ancient Greek myths and legends are thoughtfully discussed, used as illustrations of Finzi's theme, and even elaborated into a dimension of the unknown, a halo of magic.

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