Esteemed psychoanalyst Daphne de Marneffe examines women’s desire to care for children in an updated reissue of her “fascinating analysis that’s a welcome addition to the dialogues about motherhood” (Publishers Weekly).
If a century ago it was women’s sexual desires that were unspeakable, today it is the female desire to mother that has become taboo. One hundred years of Freud and feminism have liberated women to acknowledge and explore their sexual selves, as well as their public and personal ambitions. What has remained inhibited is women’s thinking about motherhood.
Maternal Desire is the first book to treat women’s desire to mother as a legitimate focus of intellectual inquiry and personal exploration. Shedding new light on old debates, Daphne de Marneffe provides an emotional road map for mothers who work and mothers who are at home. De Marneffe both explores the enjoyment and anxieties of motherhood and offers mothers in all situations valuable ways to think through their self-doubts and connect to their capacity for pleasure.
Drawing on a rich tradition of writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Adrienne Rich, Carol Gilligan, and Susan Faludi, as well as her experience as a psychologist and mother of three, de Marneffe illuminates how we express our desire to care for children. By treating maternal desire as a central feature of women’s identity—rather than as an inconvenient or slightly embarrassing detail—we can look with fresh insight at controversial issues, such as childcare, fertility, abortion, and the role of fathers. An “absorbing look at the enormous personal pleasure that women derive from mothering….Maternal Desire is a stirring book that celebrates women’s love for their children and mothering while also supporting their interest in careers and other pursuits” (Booklist).
Daphne de Marneffe, PhD, is a psychologist and the author of The Rough Patch: Marriage and the Art of Living Together and Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life. In her clinical practice, she offers psychotherapy to couples and individuals. She teaches and lectures widely on marriage, couple therapy, adult development, and parenthood. Her research and scholarly work has been published in professional journals. She and her husband have three children and live in the San Francisco Bay Area.