Conflict in the transitions to becoming a mother: a psycho-social approach

Hollway, Wendy (2010). Conflict in the transitions to becoming a mother: a psycho-social approach. Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, 15(2) pp. 136–155.



In this article I illustrate the central role of dynamic conflict in the identity changes involved in becoming a mother for the first time. I look in depth at two salient themes in 'Justine's' case: the conflict between mothering and work and those surrounding separation with her daughter. My analysis of this single case is psycho-social; that is, without reducing to either social or psychological explanations, I attempt to articulate the connections among them. The analysis is informed by a psychoanalytic account of conflict-based unconscious intersubjectivity as a foundation for self-formation and demonstrates how these dynamics work across generations to shape a woman’s identity as she becomes a mother. I briefly contrast the mother’s experience with the father’s. Methodologically, I pay attention to the workings of transference dynamics in the interpretation of empirical interview-based data.

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