1st Edition

The Maternal Lineage
Identification, Desire and Transgenerational Issues

Edited By

Paola Mariotti

ISBN 9780415681650
Published March 20, 2012 by Routledge
440 Pages

USD $49.95

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Book Description

Why do women want to have children? How does one ‘learn’ to be a mother? Does having babies have anything to do with sex?

At a time when mothers are bombarded by prescriptive and contradicting advice on how to behave with their children, The Maternal Lineage highlights various psychological aspects of the mothering experience.

International contributors provide clinical examples of frequent and challenging situations that have received scarce attention in psychoanalysis, such as issues of neglect and psychical abuse. The transgenerational repetition from mother to daughter of distressing mothering patterns is evident throughout the book, and may seem inevitable. However, clinical examples and theoretical research indicate that, when the support of partner and friends is not enough, the cycle can be brought to an end if the mother receives psychoanalytic-informed professional help.

The Maternal Lineage is divided into four parts:

  • An Introduction including a review of the literature focusing on the mother-daughter relationship
  • Pregnancy and very early issues
  • Subfertility and its effects on a woman’s psyche
  • The psychological aspects of major mothering problems: miscarriages, post-natal depression, adolescent motherhood.

This timely book will be of value to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and health professionals – obstetricians, psychiatrists, midwives and social workers.

Table of Contents

Mariotti, General Introduction. Mariotti, Mothering in Body and Mind – Introduction. Woods, Primary Maternal Preoccupation. Birksted-Breen, Peaceful Islands and Dangerous Jungles – Pregnancy: Opportunity or Impediment. A Psychoanalyst’s View. Parker, Mothering Ambivalence and Shame. Balsam, The Pregnant Mother and the Body Image of the Daughter. Furman, On Motherhood. Mariotti, Subfertility – Introduction. Leuzinger-Bohleber, The ‘Medea Fantasy’: An Unconscious Determinant of Psychogenic Sterility. Raphael-Leff, The Baby Makers: An In-depth Single-case Study of Conscious and Unconscious Psychological Reactions to Infertility and ‘Baby-making’. Zalusky-Blum, Infertility in the Age of Technology. Mariotti, When Not All Goes Well – Introduction. Pines, Pregnancy, Miscarriage and Abortion. Halberstadt-Freud, Post-Partum Depression and Symbiotic Illusion. Lemma, Keeping Envy in Mind – The Vicissitudes of Envy in Adolescent Motherhood. Baradon, "What is Genuine Maternal Love?": Clinical Considerations and Technique in Psychoanalytic Parent-infant Psychotherapy. Fraiberg, Adelson, Infant-parent Psychotherapy on Behalf of a Child in a Critical Nutritional State. Welldon, Bodies Across Generations and Cycles of Abuse.

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Paola Mariotti is a fellow of the British Psychoanalytic Society. She is a psychoanalyst in private practice. She was supervisor of a Unit in an NHS Hospital working with patients suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and has lectured and published on sexuality, reproductive issues and maternity extensively.


"The Maternal Lineage provides a thorough overview of the profoundly important but little-examined experience of mothering, and illuminates how psychoanalysis can help women going through this process." - Joanne A. Byars, AAPDP, Winter 2012

This is an important book, bringing together a diverse range of papers in the psychoanalytic tradition from around the world. ... Mariotti has written a general introduction as well as an introduction to each section. I must say these are essays of the highest quality, which will become classic papers in their own right. They will be invaluable to students of psychotherapy and sociology. The contributors show it is possible to promote parental containment in different therapeutic contexts. - Marilyn Lawrence, Journal of Child Psychotherapy, Vol. 39 No. 2, 2013