Maternal Psychology - Feminism & Psychology

Reflections on the 20th anniversary of Deconstructing Developmental Psychology

Feminism & Psychology 25(3) 

February 2015

Perhaps reviving the conceptual term matrescence, coined by and borrowed from the anthropologist Dana Raphael (1975), would be most apt within the landscape of maternity. Much like adolescence, but nested in the niche of mid-life, it is an experience of dis-orientation and re-orientation marked by an acceleration of changes in multiple domains: physical (changes in body, hormonal fluctuations); psychological (e.g., identity, personality, defensive structure, self-esteem); social (e.g., re-evaluation of friendships, forgiveness of loved ones, gains in social status, or loss of professional status), and spiritual (e.g., existential questioning, re-commitment to faith, increased religious/spiritual practices). We are indeed indebted to the early ‘‘maternal developmentalists’’ who aptly characterized motherhood in its multi-dimension and dynamism, both the oppressive and the liberating—the dichotomous phenomena that are often the hallmark of any major life transition. Their perspectives equalized and served to normalize, rather than pathologize, the ‘‘mixed-feelings’’ of women.

 The hidden mother: unknown Victorian mother–infant portraits from the public domain showcasing the invisibility of mothers. 

The hidden mother: unknown Victorian mother–infant portraits from the public domain showcasing the invisibility of mothers. 

Despite the appearance of considerable literature published on the subject, the study of maternal development is poignantly, in its infancy. There is much left to be explored to keep developmental psychology busy for the next 20 years.
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