Why do mothers get neurotic

II. Case. - Raised by a neurotic mother. Fear of childbirth as the cause of faults in upbringing

A 38-year-old woman who was being treated for frequent attacks of anxiety, attacks of heart palpitations, painful pressure on the chest and "appendix pain" showed one strange relationship with her only child, a girl of 10 years. She monitored them every step of the way, was always dissatisfied with their progress and ceaselessly nagged the somewhat retarded but otherwise good-willed child. Not a day went by without excitement, blows often ended a trivial controversy between mother and child, or the father was appointed to the office of judge. The child had gradually fallen into an unconscious defiance and, as always happens, obstructed eating, getting dressed, going to bed, washing and studying.1)

The first attacks had occurred in the 19th year of life, shortly after the patient had secretly got engaged to her present husband. The engagement lasted 8 years, experienced many challenges from the family and brought with it a myriad of frustrating emotions. The seizures disappeared soon after the marriage, only to reappear soon after the child was born. During this time the husband had switched to coitus interruptus. When a doctor made him aware of its alleged harmfulness and attributed the woman's seizures to it, he resorted to other preventive measures. The success was amazing, the seizures did not occur for a while. Suddenly they came back without any change in the sexual regime and defied therapy for three years. Sexual satisfaction came about regularly.

If there were a pure actual neurosis in the form of an anxiety neurosis, this would have been its picture - until 3 years ago. In the analysis, however, their psychological content and their hysterical structure emerged. The male protest characters stood out clearly: defiance, oversensitivity, lust for power, ambition - while the feeling of inferiority was recently preserved through the fiction of extremely strong libidinal strivings. These "libidinal" strivings had existed since the age of eight, always kept the fear of falling and having a child awake and filled the patient with the fear of the female role. When she got to know her husband and during their long marriage, she created a reliable safeguard out of this fear by unconsciously (hallucinatory) arranging it, to which chest and stomach pains were added to make illegal intercourse impossible. Her unconscious phantasy mirrored her own image to her as that of a passionate and at the same time weak-willed girl, a rejected creature who blindly followed his sexual instinct, and she had always fought against this fiction of lustful femininity with fear and neurosis. Where other girls have their morals, she has had her fear and her hysterical pain. This struggle against the female lines took place in the unconscious, but has been reflected in the consciousness since early childhood: in the conscious desire to be a man. - As often as the situation became more tense - be it that the coitus interruptus, which seemed questionable to her, conjured up the risk of pregnancy, be it that unfavorable pecuniary conditions, as in the last 3 years, they made this danger more valued - she reacted with her attacks against her female role and thus against her husband. At night there were seizures that disturbed him in his well-deserved slumber: They were supposed to show him how uncomfortable it would be to be woken up at night by the cries of children. She could also withdraw from the man at any time or, through an attack of shortness of breath, warn of the impending prospect of tuberculosis after pregnancy. She could avoid societies and handcuff her husband to the house as far as she liked, and she forced the somewhat harsh man to submit to her in many ways. Her rejection of a second child was deliberately based on the fear of having another imbecile child.

As the most significant result of this analysis, however, I want to emphasize how her nagging, tormenting process of upbringing served her unconscious tendency. She proved by her haste, by her constant restlessness and busyness that she did it a Child already making too much effort. And those around them probably had the right impression when it was regularly said: "Thank God that you only have one." that the girl came together with other children, and helped this behavior, which stems from the unconscious attitude, to one logical representation: The girl should not become like her mother, should not become sexually precocious like her!

Other mothers often act differently with the same attitude, but with the same tendency: You cannot get away from the child day and night. They fondle it continuously, are always busy with it and not infrequently disturb its night's rest by unnecessary measures. They continuously observe his food intake, his excremental function, weigh, measure and take temperatures. If the child becomes ill, the mother's work of damage begins all the more. "Reason becomes nonsense, benevolence plague." Until the child slowly begins to feel its strength and the mother puts the reins on, until it senses an intention of submission from all small relationships in the nursery, against which it rebels in constant defiance. The dreams of this patient regularly resulted in an excerpt from this ensemble of psychic impulses and made the neurotic dynamics, the psychic hermaphroditism, clearly emerge with the following male protest. The symbolism of "below and above" reappeared quite frequently. One of those dreams was:

“I run from two leopards and climb onto a box. I wake up with fear. "

The interpretation resulted in trains of thought relating to a second child, from whom she fled upstairs, into the male role. Her main neurotic symptom is identical to this, fear, which she uses as the most important safeguard against the female task of giving birth. - At the same time the upward movement in the dream reveals the trial attempt to rise above her two family members, whom she portrays as threatening.



1)Friedjung has presented the fate of the "only child" in an interesting statistic and primarily accuses psychological reasons: tenderness, anxiety, etc. Our case, as well as others like it, can both support and expand this list. He exposes perhaps the most significant cause of a restless, eternally nagging upbringing, the mother's fear of rebirth. The excessive care, day and night, is intended to prove “that it is already with one Children is unbearable «. In addition, the ground was prepared for the neurotic development of mother and daughter through multiple organ inferiority. Both had been quite weak in early childhood. The mother did not have menses until she was 18 years old, the birth of the child was noticeably difficult due to weak contractions and subsequent atonia (genital inferiority), and shortly after delivery a protracted peak catarrh appeared (inferior respiration). One brother suffered from a polyp of the larynx and the father died of pneumonia. The daughter suffered from scarlet nephritis with uremia (kidney inferiority), later from chorea (brain inferiority) and was mentally retarded. - The family doctor also advised against pregnancy again.

In any case, the neuroses of female patients reflect us the spasm that shakes our culture: the woman's horror of the feminine, her childhood fear of the impending act of childbirth. minor recently confirmed the above facts.