The Shadow of the Second Mother: Nurses and Nannies in Theories of Infant Development.pdf

The Shadow of the Second Mother: Nurses and Nannies in Theories of Infant Development.pdf


The Shadow of the "Second Mother" explores why has there been such little interest, in psychology, social history and biography, in the important contribution that 'second mothers', such as wet nurses and nannies, have had upon the emotional life of the children they have nursed. For the last three thousand years and throughout most civilisations they have nurtured the children of the privileged, and kept alive the abandoned and unwanted child, and yet there has been a profound silence surrounding the influence they may have had. The author explores the lives of several well-known people who have been wet nursed, such as Michelangelo, Rousseau, Jack London, Nabokov and Klein. She speculates that they all were affected emotionally by their 'second mother', and concludes that a universal feature of such delegated mothering seems to be that the bond between mother and child is broken, and the child may be left with a life-long distrust of close relationships. In The Shadow of the "Second Mother", Coles combines an exploration of attachment theory with neurology, making it possible to give an explanation as to why these important figures have lain unnamed and ignored in our social and psychological consciousness. This intriguing new approach to an ancient practice will be fascinating reading for psychotherapists, psychoanalysts, sociologist and students of social history.

'A fascinating illustration of traumatogenic processes including the protective defenses of encapsulation and social-psychic retreat, this subtle, intelligent and highly accessible study of the wet nurse, the nanny and the maid helps us understand the hidden foundling within each of us, especially mental health professionals in general and perhaps old-fashioned psychoanalysts in particular. Through tracing the emergence of the relational perspective from the fecund field of attachment which was originally a matter of dissident and dissonant voices within psychoanalysis, group analysis and sociology, the social unconscious is shown to be entirely relevant to our understanding of loss and melancholia in the deepest layers and kernels of our unconscious life.' - Earl Hopper Ph.D 'Prophecy Coles brings 'delegated' or substitute parents out from obscurity into the limelight. She explores the many contradictions of this role, asking questions such as: Can love really be bought? What is the impact on children of losing an early attachment figure? What does it mean for a child to love someone in a socially devalued position? What is the cost for the substitute parent herself? I found this a fascinating and subtly argued book; it deserves to be widely discussed.' - Sue Gerhardt The Shadow of the Nurse explores a topic strangely neglected in psychoanalytical writing. Why have wet nurses and nannies been largely removed from history, Prophecy Coles asks, even though it is clear from the autobiographical and fictional writing that their role has been of immense emotional importance to the infants they have cared for. In her original and wide-ranging study, the author explores the reasons for this neglect, and on the significance in both past and present of surrogate forms of maternal care. - Michael Rustin

Prophecy Coles trained at the Lincoln Centre for Psychotherapy, UK, and has had a long association with the London Centre for Psychotherapy. She has worked as a psychotherapist for 30 years and has published widely on the sibling relationship, femininity and transgenerational conflict.

Dedication. Acknowledgements. Introduction. A Brief History of the Wet Nurse of the Privileged.The Foundling and the Wet Nurse. The Second Mother. The Wet Nurse in Literature and Biography. Freud and Klein. The Nanny. Trauma, Attachment and Melancholia, Natural Bonds.


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