1st Edition

The Mother in Psychoanalysis and Beyond Matricide and Maternal Subjectivity

Edited By Rosalind Mayo, Christina Moutsou Copyright 2017
    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    The question of what it means to be a mother is a very contentious topic in psychoanalysis and in wider society. The Mother in Psychoanalysis and Beyond explores our relationship to the maternal through psychoanalysis, philosophy, art and political and gender studies.

    Over two years, a group of psychotherapists and members of the public met at the Philadelphia Association for a series of seminars on the Maternal. In the discussions that followed, a chasm opened up slowly and painfully between the idealised longings and fantasies we all share and the realities of maternal experiences: here were met the great silences of love, loss, longing, memories, desire, hatred and ambivalence. This book is the result of this bringing together in conversation and reflections of what so often seems unsayable about the Mother. It examines how issues of personal and gender identity are shaped by the ideals of separation from the mother, the fears and anxiety of merging with the mother, and how this has often led, in psychoanalysis and society, to holding mothers responsible for a variety of personal and social ills and problems in which maternal vulnerability is denied and silenced.

    There are two main themes running throughout the book: Matricide and Maternal Subjectivity. On the theme of matricide, several contributors discuss the ways in which the discourse and narratives of the Mother have been silenced on a sociocultural level and within psychoanalysis and philosophy in favour of discourses that promote independence, autonomy, power and the avoidance and denial of our fundamental helplessness and vulnerability. On the theme of maternal subjectivity, several chapters look at the actual experience of mothering and/or our relationship to our mother, to highlight the ways in which the maternal is intimately connected with human subjectivity. 

    The Mother in Psychoanalysis and Beyond provides new and provocative thinking about the maternal and its place in various contemporary discourses. It will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and psychologists of different schools, scholars and advanced students of art, gender studies, politics and philosophy as well as anyone interested in maternity studies and the relationship between the maternal and human subjectivity.

    Foreword by Françoise Barbira Freedman


    Introduction by Rosalind Mayo & Christina Moutsou

    Part 1: On Matricide

    Chapter 1: Rethinking Matricide by Amber Jacobs

    Chapter 2: Maternal Inheritance by Lucy King

    Chapter 3: ‘O Mother, Mother, what have you done?’ by Jane Haynes

    Chapter 4: Patriarchy and its Role as Saboteur to the Maternal and Paternal Metaphors: Personal Reflections by Lakis K. Georghiou

    Chapter 5: The Maternal: An Immaculate Concept by Kate Gilbert

    Chapter 6: Mothers and Sons by Melike Kayhan

    Chapter 7: Rejecting Motherhood by Pat Blackett

    Part 2: Maternal Subjectivities

    Chapter 8: Motherhood and Art Practice: Expressing Maternal Experience in Visual Art by Eti Wade

    Chapter 9: The Paradox of the Maternal by Barbara Latham

    Chapter 10: Not-so-Great Expectations: Motherhood and the clash of private and public worlds by Melissa Benn

    Chapter 11: Learning to be a Mother by Lynda Woodroffe

    Chapter 12: Music and the Maternal by Alison Davies

    Chapter 13: The Maternal and the Erotic: An Exploration of the Links between Maternal and Erotic Subjectivity by Christina Moutsou

    Chapter 14: How shall we tell each other of our Mothers? by Rosalind Mayo


    Rosalind Mayo and Christina Moutsou are senior psychoanalytic psychotherapists and writers working in private practice in the UK. Christina is a visiting lecturer of psychoanalytic psychotherapy at Regent’s University.

    "The mothering that, one way and another, informs psychoanalytic treatment- and the mothers that haunt psychoanalytic theory- have been, perhaps unsurprisingly, difficult to write well about. In these remarkably illuminating and various essays, that are unusually both evocative and informative, we begin to get a new sense of what it might be to write about the so-called maternal without sentimentality or the rigours of abstraction. This is a more than useful and telling collection of writings."-Adam Phillips, psychoanalyst and writer.

    "This is where psychoanalysis meets existential reality, when mothers describe their deeply felt experience allowing us to move from mythology and theory to the everyday reality of the rawness of the mothering experience"-Professor Emmy van Deurzen, Principal New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling.

    "This is an extraordinary book. The editors, highly respected thinkers and psychoanalysts, have generated a remarkable collection of contributions by a diverse and impressive group of contributors who address one of the most central questions that therapists of all persuasions must ponder: what does it really mean to be a mother, and how have the relationships all of us experienced with our own mothers affected who we are as human beings? This book should be required reading for every therapist, whatever their orientation. A stunning achievement!"-M. Guy Thompson, author of The Death of Desire: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness, Second Edition, also by Routledge.

    "This is a brilliant book of enormous value to anyone with an interest in the origins and outcomes of our most complex, ambivalent and enriching relationship. My mother died at Easter and I have found here a handbook to understand the contradictions of mothering. How to reconcile the intimacy of growing inside another human being, to the stranger that she and maybe we all become to our daughters and sons. It is a courageous, intellectually prescient, and unhesitating look at the schism between the truth and dreams of motherhood. There are passages of great beauty and emotion. Read it."-Belona Greenwood, journalist, scriptwriter and Founder and Co-organiser of Words and Women.

    “The book enters fearlessly into the disputatious territory of psychoanalysis in a refreshingly plural, panoramic and maternal manner, making it a valuable resource for both trainees and advanced practitioners.” - Dr. Paul Caviston, Consultant Psychiatrist, The Child and Adolescent Practice.