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Pines, D. (1988). Adolescent Pregnancy and Motherhood: A Psychoanalytical Perspective. Psychoanal. Inq., 8(2):234-251.

(1988). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 8(2):234-251

Adolescent Pregnancy and Motherhood: A Psychoanalytical Perspective

Dinora Pines, M.D.

It is striking that despite advances in contraception and the easy availability of termination of pregnancy a considerable number of teenage girls still become pregnant, and some become teenage mothers. For many of them the normal developmental crises of puberty and adolescence, followed by that of first pregnancy and motherhood, facilitate further psychic growth. For others these crises may revive primitive anxieties and conflicts belonging to previous developmental phases, which cause them to regress. For some of these young mothers the birth of a real baby may prove to be a calamity. The physical maturity of puberty offers them an alternative means of resolving psychic conflict and establishing their femininity. While a girl's wish to be pregnant may be seen as part of normal adolescent development, a further step in maturation evokes a wish to bring a live child into the world and achieve fulfillment of the maternal ego-ideal. The adolescent girls I am discussing, however, appear to have taken only the first part of this developmental step. In this paper I focus on the unconscious conflicts of some immature young women that prevent them from establishing good-enough mothering (Winnicott, 1960).


Dr. Pines is a Training and Supervising Analyst, British Institute of Psychoanalysis.

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