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The Mother's Hands: Desire, Fantasy and the Inheritance of the Maternal

Hardback By Massimo Recalcati, Alice Kilgarriff
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Product Description

In this book the bestselling author and psychoanalyst Massimo Recalcati offers a fundamental re-examination of what ‘being a mother’ means today, in a world where new social and sexual freedoms mean that motherhood is no longer the sole destiny of women. Questioning the belief that a mother’s love is natural and unconditional, he paints a more complex and troubling picture of the mother–child relationship, observing that mothers may even resent their children as a result of unresolved conflicts between different dimensions of love. The mother’s hands not only nurture but can also potentially harm. 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 enables it to access the symbolic and cultural world.

Recalcati cuts through conventional wisdom to offer a fresh perspective on the changing nature 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 and related disciplines.

Product Details

Format: Hardback, 200 pages Language: English
Dimension: 20.07cm x 13.46cm x 2.03cm ISBN10: 150953167X
Weight: 318g ISBN13: 9781509531677
Publication Date: 26 Apr 2019 Publisher: Polity Press

About Author

Massimo Recalcati is a psychoanalyst and author who teaches at the universities of Pavia and Verona.

Product Reviews


‘This book from one of Italy’s most popular public intellectuals turns our conventional understanding of motherly love on its head, encouraging a complete rethink of what motherhood means today. Written with Recalcati’s typical flair and sagacity, it will be of interest to a very wide readership.

’Dany Nobus, Brunel University, London‘In this poetic and thought-provoking book, Massimo Recalcati explores the many images of the mother to be found in both psychoanalysis and popular culture, urging a questioning of the prejudices and clichés that are so often taken for granted. Without downplaying the complexity and ambivalences of the mother–child relation, he emphasises the positive, life-giving transmission of the mother, and shows us with clarity and elegance the many levels at which this operates.

’Darian Leader, Psychoanalyst, Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research


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