The Mother's Hands
Desire, Fantasy and the Inheritance of the Maternal
The social changes of the last century have fundamentally transformed motherhood. From a patriarchal society which reduced women almost entirely to their maternal function, new social and sexual freedoms mean that motherhood is no longer the sole destiny of women. At the same time, scientific advances mean that children can now be born without the presence of a conventional mother. How then should we view motherhood today?
In this book, the bestselling author and psychoanalyst Massimo Recalcati argues that “being a mother” is a huge challenge for every woman because it involves balancing motherhood against femininity. Questioning the belief that a mother’s love is unconditional, he observes that mothers may even resent their children, as a result of unresolved conflicts between different dimensions of love, and of external pressures to relinquish self-love. Drawing on the lessons of psychoanalysis, Recalcati argues that it is precisely in these competing demands that motherhood fulfils its function: only if the mother is “not-all-mother” can a child experience the absence that makes it possible for them to access the symbolic and cultural world.
Recalcati cuts through clichés and conventional wisdom to offer a fresh perspective on the changing nature and conflicting demands of motherhood today. An international bestseller, this book will appeal to a wide general readership, as well as to students and scholars of gender studies, psychoanalysis, psychology and sociology.