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Hoffman, L. (2003). Mothers' Ambivalence with their Babies and Toddlers: Manifestations of Conflicts with Aggression. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(4):1219-1240.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(4):1219-1240

Mothers' Ambivalence with their Babies and Toddlers: Manifestations of Conflicts with Aggression

Leon Hoffman

In this paper the author continues his study of conflicts over aggression in women, discussing the implications for contemporary theories of feminine psychology of observations of mothers in parent/child groups with their infants and toddlers. Many mothers experience conflicts over aggression (both in themselves and in their children) and become intolerant of their ambivalence toward their children. The author suggests that this observation provides an avenue that allows an integration of psychoanalytic ideas about maternity and childrearing with psychoanalytic understandings of women's conflicts about achievement in the social realm outside the home. In both roles, difficulties mastering conflicts with aggression may cause women to struggle profoundly, and to experience problems, in successfully negotiating their important life goals, whether the goals refer to their roles as effective mothers or their roles as effective individuals in the social sphere outside the home. Some women may demonstrate these difficulties in one sphere or the other, some in both, and others in neither. The author suggests on the one hand that we need to eliminate the concept of normality when considering the activities of women, and on the other hand that we need to normalize the omnipresence of ambivalence in the psychology of women.

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