Corresponding Author Information: Özgün Taktakoğlu

Session Abstract:

The perinatal period can be represented as a junction between fundamental polarities of the human psyche: me-not me, subject-object, inside-outside, body-mind, creation-death, libidinal drive-aggressive drive, and love-hate (Rosado & Marques, 2016). Motherhood is marked by ambivalence, from its very beginning. Numerous studies have underlined the importance of ambivalence during pregnancy and the early postpartum period (Kristeva,2007; Deutsch, 1925,1949; Pines, 1982; Bellion, 2001; Sirol 1999, 2003). Winnicott (1949) stated, "18 reasons why mother hates her infant from the beginning" while F. Sirol (1999) proposed the concept of hatred to the fetus and offered 21 reasons why a pregnant woman may hate her fetus. This ambivalence between love and hate, in other words, libidinal and aggressive feelings (or drive) of the mother to the fetus, may be expressed through psychosomatic symptoms (Deutch, 1949). In clinical interviews, however, pregnant women most often seem to repress or cancel their aggressive feelings out. These feelings show themselves either as guilt or in displaced forms in various close relationships (with a husband or parents) (Bellion, 2001).

Understanding the early stages of motherhood is crucial because a mother's relationship with her baby depends to a large extent on the quality of psychic work during pregnancy and postpartum. Dealing with ambivalence and hostile feelings is one of these psychic works, and it brings the mind the question of whether these feelings are controlled carefully, or avoided and turned towards oneself or acted out in the relationship with the infant in the future. How a woman deals with this psychic work depends on the personality organization, ego strength, inner representations, and defense organization that she brings from her own past. In other words, the expression of hostility evolves and produces different outbursts depending on the personality organization.

Projective tests allow clinicians to understand not only the manifest but also the latent form of the conflict, aggressive drive, and the defenses against it. In our case study, in the light of theoretical knowledge, we will discuss the clinical interviews and longitudinal projective test results of Mrs. Z. She participated in our longitudinal perinatal research with the normal (non-clinical) population as a volunteer. She has been followed from the first trimester of her pregnancy until the end of the first year after the delivery. We will focus on the Rorschach and TAT results of her first and last test protocols following the French psychoanalytic school. We aim to show how her drive organization, defense mechanisms against hostility and aggression, and the libidinal/aggressive quality of object relations have evolved through the perinatal process, depending on her personality organization.


Özgün Taktakoğlu, PhD | İstanbul University Psychology Department

Irem Atak | Istanbul University Psychology Department

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