What Do Mothers Want?: Developmental Perspectives, Clinical Challenges, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

What Do Mothers Want?

Developmental Perspectives, Clinical Challenges, 1st Edition

Edited by Sheila F. Brown


Purchasing Options:$ = USD
Paperback: 9781138009875
pub: 2014-09-11
SAVE ~$11.99
Hardback: 9780881634006
pub: 2005-07-20
SAVE ~$17.19
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203780602
pub: 2013-05-13
from $29.98

FREE Standard Shipping!


What do mothers want and need from their parenting partners, their extended families, their friends, colleagues, and communities? And what can mental health professionals do to help them meet their daunting responsibilities in the contemporary world? The talented contributors to What Do Mothers Want? address these questions from perspectives that encompass differences in marital status, parental status, gender, and sexual orientation. Traversing the biological, psychological, cultural, and economic dimensions of mothering, they provide a compelling brief on the perplexing choices confronting mothers in the contemporary world.

Of course, mothers most basically want their children to be safe and healthy. But to this end they want and need many things: caring partners, intergenerational and community support, a responsive workplace, public services, and opportunities to share their experiences with other mothers. And they want their feelings and actions as mothers to be understood and accepted by those around them and by society at large. The role of psychotherapy in reaching these latter goals is taken up by many of the contributors. They reflect on the special psychological challenges of pregnancy, birth, and the arrival of a newborn into a couple’s (whether hetero- or homosexual) life, and they address new venues of therapeutic assistance, such as brief low-cost therapy for at-risk mothers and infants and group interventions to help couples grow into the new role of parental couples.


"What Do Mothers Want? is written for our profession. It belongs in courses on feminism. It is theoretically sophisticated enough and clinically applicable enough to be worthwhile for anyone's study of what it means to be a woman."

- Johanna Krout Tabin, Ph.D., ABPP, Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, Fall 2007

“I cannot think of another book in which such an impressive group of clinicians has come together to deal with all aspects of the profound life changes set in motion by the birth of a baby. This book is unique in that it goes beyond motherhood in the literal sense to include how the birth of a baby affects fathers, grandparents, the marital couple, and gay and lesbian parents. Furthermore, several chapters tackle difficult subjects, such as infertility and ambivalence, that gain expression in the early mother–child relationship. Each contributor has a uniquely valuable perspective that brings something special to the volume.”

- Anni Bergman, Ph.D., Director, Parent-Infant and Parent-Toddler Program, New York Freudian Society

“Turning Freud's provocative question - what does a woman want? - to mothers, this book explores what has often been a hidden world of desire. And yet, as Daniel Stern writes that mothers want to fall in love with their babies and Sara Ruddick, speaking as a grandmother, says that mothers want to keep their children safe and to foster their capacity for joy, we begin to see the implications - political as well as psychodynamic - of asking mothers what they want and listening to their answers.”

- Carol Gilligan, Ph.D., Author, In a Differnet Voice and The Birth of Pleasure

Table of Contents

Introduction - Sheila Feig Brown

I. What Mothers Want and Need

1. The Psychic Landscape of Mothers - Daniel N. Stern

2. Loving and Hating Mothers and Daughters: Thoughts on the Role of Their Physicality - Rosemary H. Balsam

3. What Mothers and Babies Need: The Maternal Third and Its Presence in Clinical Work - Jessica Benjamin

4. What Fathers Do and How They Do It - James M. Herzog

5. What Do Mothers and Grandmothers Know and Want? - Sara Ruddick

6. What Is a Mother? Gay and Lesbian Perspectives on Parenting - Jack Drescher, Deborah Glazer, Lee Crespi, & David Schwartz

7. It's A(p)Parent: New Family Narratives Needed - Adria E. Schwartz

8. What Does a Mother Want and Need from Her Child's Therapist? - Daniel Gensler and Robin Shafran

II. Women's Bodies: Choices and Dilemmas

9. "Too Late": Ambivalence about Motherhood, Choice, and Time - Nancy J. Chodorow

10. Pregnancy - Sharon Kofman and Ruth Imber

11. Facts and Fantasies about Infertility - Allison Rosen

12. Layers upon Layers: The Complicated Terrain of Eating Disorders and the Mother-Child Relationship - Jean Petrucelli and Catherine Stuart

III. Pulling It All Together

13. Listen to My Words: Maternal Life in Colors and Cycles of Time - Jane Lazarre

14. To Be Partners and Parents: The Challenge for Couples Who Are Parents - Carolyn Pape Cowan and Philip A. Cowan

About the Series

Psychoanalysis in a New Key Book Series

When music is played in a new key, the melody does not change, but the notes that make up the composition do: change in the context of continuity, continuity that perseveres through change. Psychoanalysis in a New Key publishes books that share the aims psychoanalysts have always had, but that approach them differently. The books in the series are not expected to advance any particular theoretical agenda, although to this date most have been written by analysts from the Interpersonal and Relational orientations.

The most important contribution of a psychoanalytic book is the communication of something that nudges the reader’s grasp of clinical theory and practice in an unexpected direction. Psychoanalysis in a New Key creates a deliberate focus on innovative and unsettling clinical thinking. Because that kind of thinking is encouraged by exploration of the sometimes surprising contributions to psychoanalysis of ideas and findings from other fields, Psychoanalysis in a New Key particularly encourages interdisciplinary studies. Books in the series have married psychoanalysis with dissociation, trauma theory, sociology, and criminology. The series is open to the consideration of studies examining the relationship between psychoanalysis and any other field – for instance, biology, literary and art criticism, philosophy, systems theory, anthropology, and political theory.

But innovation also takes place within the boundaries of psychoanalysis, and Psychoanalysis in a New Key therefore also presents work that reformulates thought and practice without leaving the precincts of the field. Books in the series focus, for example, on the significance of personal values in psychoanalytic practice, on the complex interrelationship between the analyst’s clinical work and personal life, on the consequences for the clinical situation when patient and analyst are from different cultures, and on the need for psychoanalysts to accept the degree to which they knowingly satisfy their own wishes during treatment hours, often to the patient’s detriment.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Clinical Psychology
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / Lifespan Development