Image: Bea Mulder
In Western cultures most people believe that mothers instinctively love and protect all their children. This belief makes it difficult to understand why a mother might feel hostility towards her child, or even worse, act out her hostility in a way that harms her child. Indeed, in our society we generally see hostile mothers as unnatural, and perhaps mentally ill.
Mothers naturally internalise society’s beliefs, and tend to experience deep shame when they feel hostility. Tragically, this shame makes it more likely that they will act out their hostility.
The expression of maternal hostility is always harmful to a child, but does viewing this hostility as unnatural help us understand this harmful behaviour, or is there a more insightful perspective?
In this webinar, I’ll argue that the perspective offered by modern evolution and anthropology is more illuminating, and share the relevant research. I’ll also argue that this understanding can contribute to clinical work with struggling mothers, as well as to programs focused on preventing mothers from treating their children in a hostile manner.