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Schuker, E. (2005). THE INNER WORLD OF THE MOTHER Edited by Dale Mendell Ph.D., and Patsy Turrini M.S.W. Madison, CT: Psychosocia Press, 2003 346 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 74(4):1185-1193.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(4):1185-1193

THE INNER WORLD OF THE MOTHER Edited by Dale Mendell Ph.D., and Patsy Turrini M.S.W. Madison, CT: Psychosocia Press, 2003 346 pp.

Review by:
Eleanor Schuker

This rich collection investigates a mother's inner world—her subjectivity—an area that has been surprisingly neglected by psychoanalysis. Editors Mendell and Turrini have assembled a superb collection that brings fresh perspectives to a topic deserving deeper exploration. In this very readable volume, sixteen thought-provoking contributions address the development of mothering capacities and its relation to female psychology, the psychic restructuring that can occur during the motherhood experience, the role of the internalized mother, special conditions of motherhood such as multiple births and adoption, pathologies in mothering, elements of clinical psychoanalytic work with mothers, and the relation between attachment research and psychoanalytic theories of mothering. New ideas and expanded insights about established observations are to be found here.

The opening chapter, by Blos, draws on clinical work and developmental theory to portray the process of becoming a mother. During pregnancy and the first eighteen months of an infant's life, the mother experiences a unique psychic plasticity and restructuring. This psychic restructuring is repeated with each new baby. Softening of a mother's boundaries, body imagery, and defenses allows internalized aspects of her maternal and paternal objects to surface, along with ancient id impulses. The plasticity can be threatening to a mother's psyche, producing defensive avoidance of ancient feelings, with a risk of isolation of affect and interference with empathic capacities and maternal attunement, so that disturbances may occur in the unfolding mother–infant relationship.

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