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Wrottesley, C. (2012). An Interview with Dr Paola Mariotti. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 2(2):247-254.
(2012). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(2):247-254
Meeting the Author
An Interview with Dr Paola Mariotti
Catriona Wrottesley, M.A.
Dr Paola Mariotti is a Fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society, a medical doctor, and formerly supervisor of the BorderlinePersonality Unit at Whittington Hospital, London. She has two daughters and two stepdaughters. Originally from Milan, she is a psychoanalyst in private practice, and lectures and publishes on sexuality, reproduction, and motherhood.
Dr Mariotti's interest in the importance of maternality in the lives of women arose from her own experience of pregnancy and first-time motherhood and led to her first paper, “The analyst's pregnancy: the patient, the analyst, and the space of the unknown” (1993), which was published when her first daughter was three, followed by “Creativity and fertility—the one-parent phantasy”, published in Female Experience: Three Generations of British Women(1997). This year comes the publication of her book, The Maternal Lineage: Identification, Desire, and Transgenerational Issues(2012), a collection of papers by international contributors which reviews literature on the mother-daughter relationship, pregnancy, sub-fertility, and their effect on a woman's psyche, and the psychological aspects of major mothering problems, such as miscarriages, post-natal depression, and adolescent motherhood.
At the start of her book, Dr Mariotti writes that she hopes it will contribute to the ongoing (and long overdue) evaluation and reflection on the importance of maternality in womens' lives, a neglected subject in psychoanalytic literature, and so I begin our conversation by asking her what she means by “maternality”.
PM: I see maternity as the actual experience of having babies, while maternality is a wider concept, characterised by the wish and capacity to nurture and support one's own and others' personal creativity, at a personal, social, or cultural level. They are clearly connected, but in practice not necessarily the same thing. Maternality is neither the exclusive preserve of women, nor of women with children. Boys and men can internalise a maternal capacity (Mariotti, 2012, p.
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