Upcoming Events

Maternal negativity and child maltreatment

How evolutionary perspectives might contribute to a more layered and compassionate understanding

Keynote address Royal College of Psychiatrists, Evolutionary Special Interest Group. 

London, Friday October 29, 2021 – Taking place on Zoom


In Western culture, both the lay public and mental health professionals tend to believe that mothers evolved to love all their children instinctually and unconditionally. In contrast, any mother who feels ambivalence or hostility towards her child is typically seen as unnatural, and a mother who maltreats her child is seen as behaving pathologically.

This talk draws on evolutionary research to challenge this widespread view of motherhood. In particular, it describes how raising children has required mothers to negotiate a series of complex, precarious and layered trade-offs, and argues that maternal negativity and child maltreatment can arise from this.

The goal of this talk will be to foster a more evolutionarily valid, nuanced and compassionate understanding of motherhood.

Such an understanding has the potential to contribute to clinical work with faltering mothers, and also to programs focused on the preventing maternal maltreatment of children.

Maternal negativity and child maltreatment

Fostering compassion through evolutionary perspectives

Webinar for “Our Birth Journey’.

7pm (UK time) October 14th 2021, via Zoom

SUMMARY: See talk of same title which I am giving to Royal College of Psychiatry

The Archetypal Death Mother as the Nursemaid of Shame

C.G. Jung Public Lectrue Series, Bristol, UK

Either in Bristol or on Zoom (Covid dependent)

December 11, 2021


Jungian analyst, Marion Woodman, defined the archetypal Death Mother as the energy that wishes that we, or some part of us, were dead.  This energy can take many different forms. In my previous presentation to this group I discussed infanticide as an expression of Death Mother. In this presentation, I will explore Death Mother in the guise of toxic shame.   

Toxic shame says there is something about us which makes us fundamentally flawed, unacceptable, and inferior. It is a deeply painful state of being. It is also a state of being that is shot through with anxiety and fear. 

Being toxically shamed is like being caught in the Medusa’s stare: we are paralyzed, petrified and turned to stone.

If we are repeatedly shamed, then Death Mother is internalised and woven into the very fabric of our own psyches and bodies. Before long, our perception is disfigured. We start shaming ourselves; we begin projecting our shame onto others.  We become shame’s new nursemaids.

This presentation will explore both how toxic shame takes hold and how we can break the cycle of shaming.    

Book Signing & Reading

Past Speaking Events

Meeting ‘The Death Mother Archetype’

Guest on Sara Avant Stover’s podcast

Listen on iTunes: https://sieff.pro/DeathM/Stover/iTune

Listen on Spotify: https://sieff.pro/DeathM/Stover/Spotify

The World of Trauma

Podcast Guest on ‘The Circle of Insight’ hosted by Dr. Carlos

Listen on iTunes: https://sieff.pro/C-in-1/Ap

Listen on Spotify: https://sieff.pro/C-in-1

Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/UDRNQiTv5NM

Understanding the Death Mother

Podcast Guest on ‘Our Bight Journey – Families Podcast’

Listen here: https://www.spreaker.com/user/ourbirthjourney/daniela-podcast

Trauma-Worlds and their Transformation:
Moving beyond Moving beyond a life built around fear, dissociation and shame.

The Embodiment Conference, Online.

Video available at: https://sieff.video/Embodiment-Conference

My animal body

The Story Party, Salisbury Literary Festival, UK.

The archetyapl Death Mother as nature’s shadow: Infanticide and the deep history of Human Kind

Public Lecture, C.G. Jung Club, London, UK.

Death Mother/Life Mother: An anthropolgoical contribution to understanding mother-infant dynamics

Clinical Forum, The Bowlby Center, London, UK.

The archetypal Death Mother as nature’s shadow

C.G. Jung Public Lecture Series, Bristol, UK.

Understanding and healing emotional trauma

Community Library Event, Kingsclere Hamshire.

Video (edited) available at http://bit.ly/Sieff_Kings2016

Transforming trauma in psyche and body

Plenary Lecture, Pacifica Graduate Institute, California, USA.
At conference, ‘Coming Home to the Body: The Legacy of Marion Woodman’. 

How to understand and heal emotional trauma

Public Lecture, Royal Society of Arts (RSA), London. Audio recording available for listening or downloading at http://bit.ly/Sieff_RSA_talk

Video (edited) available at http://bit.ly/Sieff_RSA_Vid

The nature of the archetypal Death Mother

Plenary Lecture, Cambridge (UK) Jungian Circle.

Early relational trauma, insecure attachment patterns and healing: Insights from a modern evolutionary perspective

Journal of Analytical Psychology International Conference, Boston, USA.

Maternal ambivalence, early relational trauma and insecure attachment trajectories: Insights from a modern evolutionary perspective

Scientific Meeting, Tavistock and Portman Trust, Tavistock Clinic, London, UK.

Attachment: How recent research in evolution and anthropology contributes to psychotherapy

European Association of Body Psychotherapy Conference, Cambridge, UK.

The nature of Death Mother

Marion Woodman Foundation BodySoulRythms® Conference, Chicago, USA.

Anthropological Presentations

Resources and subsistence strategies among the Datoga pastoralists of Tanzania

Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge

How does household wealth affect livestock production among the Datoga pastoralists of Tanzania?

Department of Biological Anthropology, University College London.

How does wealth influence the subsistence strategies among the Datoga pastoralists of Tanzania?

Institute of Biological Anthropology Oxford University

Sex ratio variation in human populations

American Anthropological Association, Phoenix, Arizona

Do wealthy Kel Tamasheq (Toureg) nobles of central Mali sacrifice reproductive success for the demonstration of prestige?

Evolution and Human Behavior conference, University of Michigan

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