Maternal Subjectivity: A Dissociated Self-State

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Author: Ellen Toronto

Publisher: Routledge

Published: 28/09/23

ISBN: 9781032537948

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In this book, Ellen Toronto reveals the dissociation of maternal subjectivity from human experience and provides a psychoanalytic exploration of the (non-)history of motherhood to make possible an understanding and appreciation of maternal worlds.

The persistent patriarchal order acknowledges the mother’s existence largely as a ‘womb’, a bearer of children, and although her role is essential in the service of the species, we know very little of her story as a person. The absent presence of the mother as an individual subject and collective ignorance about her experiences has constituted an existential trauma, that is, a trauma of non-existence, and it is only by revealing this dissociation, Toronto argues, that we can begin to excavate the stories of individual mothers as they have borne and raised the world’s children, and at last realise that the burdens they carry belong to us all.

As a fulsome account of the maternal perspective, which draws from a variety of sources – including historical research, mythological stories and clinical case material – this book will be significant for students of psychoanalysis, feminism and history, as well as psychoanalysts in training and in practice who seek a richer understanding of maternal being.