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Barth, F.D. (1993). Conflicts Over Selfishness: One Aspect of Some Women's Wish for a Baby. Psychoanal. Psychol., 10(2):169-185.

(1993). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 10(2):169-185

Conflicts Over Selfishness: One Aspect of Some Women's Wish for a Baby

F. Diane Barth, M.S.W., CSW

The wish for a baby has traditionally been with femininity in Western culture. However, the connection between the two has never been fully explicated. Traditional psychoanalytic formulations of gender in general and of the wish for a baby in particular have focused on specific genital-based fantasies. In response to this focus, many feminist writers have turned to relational, cultural, and social explanations, but in so doing they have failed to explore other significant intrapsychic factors. This article focuses on one of the potential meanings of the wish for a baby—the organization of a sense of a feminine self around giving to and caring for others, exemplified by the fantasy of the mother caring unambivalently for her baby. This aspect of the wish has both intrapsychic and interpersonal (including social and cultural) impetus and meaning for each individual. Three clinical examples illustrate the significance of this often unconscious and/or unarticulated meaning of the wish for a baby.

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