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When a mother’s love is not enough: A cross-cultural critical review of anxiety, attachment, ambivalence, abandonment, and infanticide

Silverio, SA, Wilkinson, C, Fallon, V, Bramante, A and Staneva, AA (2021) When a mother’s love is not enough: A cross-cultural critical review of anxiety, attachment, ambivalence, abandonment, and infanticide. In: Mayer, CH and Vanderheiden, E, (eds.) Handbook of Love in Cultural and Transcultural Contexts. Springer, pp. 291-315.

Silverio, Wilkinson, Fallon, Bramante, & Staneva (2019) - When a mother's love is not enough - FINAL.pdf - Accepted Version

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Motherhood narratives pervade all cultures and are almost universally divided into the ‘good and perfect’ or the ‘bad and ugly’ mother discourses. A mother’s love is commonly thought of as an emotional investment between those who mother, and those who are mothered, and social expectations reinforce motherhood as being underpinned by an innate psychological bond. Historically comprising of nourishment, protection, and nurturing, in modernity a mother’s love has evolved to encompass added meanings in view of the competing demands of personal, professional, and socio-political obligations. Consequently, with each new shape a mother’s love assumes, its meaning becomes conceptually stretched and more fragile. Negotiating these demands, together with the intense societal scrutiny placed on modern mothers, renders the meaning of a mother’s love ambiguous, and the traditional senses of motherhood increasingly difficult to achieve. Failure to bestow ‘perfect’ motherhood can provoke a range of disordered constructions of love, and important consequences of the ‘good mother’ discourse include increased maternal anxiety. This can manifest as maternal ambivalence and mother-infant attachment issues which, in turn, may contribute to profound, lifelong implications for maternal and child mental health. In severe cases of strained mother-child bonds, a varied degree of presentations may occur, including maternal abandonment, or in the most troubling instances of rupture between mother and infant: Infanticide. Reflecting on such problematic issues, we suggest ways to navigate distress to avoid these detrimental outcomes and aim to hold society accountable, so mothers are not solely responsible for their sustained psychological health and are supported to provide their infants with the love they require.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Divisions: Education
Publisher: Springer
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2020 11:33
Last Modified: 08 May 2024 11:02
DOI or ID number: 10.1007/978-3-030-45996-3_16
Editors: Mayer, CH and Vanderheiden, E
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12480
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