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更新时间:2017-5-14 10:37:04 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Birth of a Mother

For most women, pregnancy and new motherhood is a joy — at least some of the time. But most mothers also experience worry, disappointment, guilt, competition, frustration, and even anger and fear.


As the psychiatrist Daniel Stern explained in the 1990s in his books “The Motherhood Constellation” and “The Birth of a Mother,” giving birth to a new identity can be as demanding as giving birth to a baby.

精神科医生丹尼尔·斯特恩(Daniel Stern)在上世纪90年代的书《母亲星座》(The Motherhood Constellation)和《母亲的诞生》(The Birth of a Mother)中解释过,就像生孩子一样,获得一个新的身份也同样磨人。

Dr. Stern showed that becoming a mother is an identity shift, and one of the most significant physical and psychological changes a woman will ever experience.


The process of becoming a mother, which anthropologists call “matrescence,” has been largely unexplored in the medical community. Instead of focusing on the woman’s identity transition, more research is focused on how the baby turns out. But a woman’s story, in addition to how her psychology impacts her parenting, is important to examine, too. Of course, this transition is also significant for fathers and partners, but women who go through the hormonal changes of pregnancy may have a specific neurobiological experience.


When people have more insight into their emotions, they can be more in control of their behaviors. So even when the focus remains on the child, understanding the psychology of pregnant and postpartum women can help promote healthier parenting. Mothers with greater awareness of their own psychology may be more empathetic to their children’s emotions.


Knowing the challenges of matrescence will normalize and validate how new mothers may be feeling. These are the four key things to look out for:


Changing Family Dynamics: Having a baby is an act of creation. Pregnancy is more than creating a new human, it’s also creating a new family. A baby is the catalyst that will open new possibilities for more intimate connections as well as new stresses in a woman’s closest relationships with her partner, siblings and friends.


In her 2012 book “The Maternal Lineage,” Paola Mariotti, a psychoanalyst and fellow of the British Psychoanalytical Society, says that a woman’s maternal identity is founded in her mother’s style, which in turn was influenced by how she was raised.

在2012年的著作《母系血统》(The Maternal Lineage)中,精神分析学家、英国精神分析协会(The British Psychoanalytical Society)会员葆拉·马里奥蒂(Paola Mariotti)说,一个女性身为母亲的身份建立在她母亲的风格基础之上,而她母亲的风格反过来又受她自己成长经历的影响。

Whether a woman parents her child as her mother raised her, or adopts a different style, becoming a mother provides an opportunity for a do-over. In a way, a woman gets to re-experience her own childhood in the act of parenting, repeating what was good, and trying to improve what was not. If a woman had a difficult relationship with her mother, she may try to be the mother she wishes she’d had.


Ambivalence: The British psychotherapist Rozsika Parker wrote in “Torn in Two: The Experience of Maternal Ambivalence” about the pull and push of wanting a child close, and also craving space (physically and emotionally) as the normal wave of motherhood. Ambivalence is a feeling that comes up in the roles and relationships a person is most invested in, because they’re always a juggling act between giving and taking. Motherhood is no exception. Part of why people have a hard time dealing with ambivalence is that it’s uncomfortable to feel two opposing things at the same time.

矛盾:英国心理治疗师罗泽西卡·帕克(Rozsika Parker)在《撕裂:为人母的矛盾体验》(Torn in Two: The Experience of Maternal Ambivalence) 中,谈及了为人母过程中正常的潮起潮落,一种来回拉锯的心态:既想要和孩子亲密接触,又企盼拥有(实体和情感)空间。一个人在花费最大心力扮演种种角色、维系种种关系之际,常常有矛盾之感。因为这些向来都是关乎付出和索取的兼顾之举。为人母也不例外。人们应对矛盾时之所以觉得困难,在某种程度上是因为同时有两种截然相反的感受会让人很不舒服。

Most of the time, the experience of motherhood is not good or bad, it’s both good and bad. It’s important to learn how to tolerate, and even get comfortable with the discomfort of ambivalence.


Fantasy vs. Reality: The psychoanalyst Joan Raphael-Leff, the head of the University College London Anna Freud Centre academic faculty for psychoanalytic research, explains that by the time the baby arrives, a woman has already developed feelings about her fantasy baby. As a pregnancy progresses, a woman creates a story about her make-believe child and becomes emotionally invested in that story.

梦幻vs现实:伦敦大学学院(University College London)安娜佛洛伊德中心(Anna Freud Centre)精神分析研究学术人员主管、精神分析师琼·拉斐尔-莱夫(Joan Raphael-Leff)解释说,到宝宝降生时,女性已经发展出了对自己的梦幻宝宝的感情。随着孕期的推进,女性会编排出一个关于虚幻宝宝的故事,并充满感情地投入其中。

A woman’s fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood are informed by her observations of the experiences of her own mother and other female relatives and friends and her community and culture. They may be powerful enough that reality disappoints if it doesn’t align with her vision.


Guilt, Shame and “The Good Enough Mother”: There’s also the ideal mother in a woman’s mind. She’s always cheerful and happy, and always puts her child’s needs first. She has few needs of her own. She doesn’t make decisions that she regrets. Most women compare themselves to that mother, but they never measure up because she’s a fantasy. Some women think that “good enough” (a phrase coined by the pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott) is not acceptable, because it sounds like settling. But striving for perfection sets women up to feel shame and guilt.

愧疚、羞耻和“足够好的母亲”:女性心中也会有一个理想母亲的形象。她总是欢乐幸福,总是以子女的需要为先。她自己没什么需要。她不会做出让自己后悔的决定。大部分女性都会把自己和这样一个母亲做比较,但她们永远无法与之媲美,因为这是一个虚幻人物。一些母亲认为“足够好”(由儿科医生和精神分析师唐纳德·温尼科特[Donald Winnicott]提出的一种说法)是不可接受的,因为它听上去像是将就与凑合。但力求完美最终会让女性感到愧疚和羞耻。

Mothers will feel guilty because they’re always making challenging and sometimes impossible choices. At times they are required to put their own needs over those of their child. Most women don’t talk about feeling ashamed because it’s usually about something that they don’t want anyone else to know. Shame is the feeling that there’s something wrong with me. This is often the result of comparing yourself to an unrealistic, unattainable standard.


Too many women are ashamed to speak openly about their complicated experiences for fear of being judged. This type of social isolation may even trigger postpartum depression.


When women find themselves feeling lost somewhere between who they were before motherhood and who they think they should be now, many worry that something is terribly wrong, when in fact this discomfort is absolutely common.


In the April issue of Glamour magazine, the model Chrissy Teigen became the latest in a series of celebrities who announced her struggle with postpartum depression. She joined Adele, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields and other prominent women who have used their platforms to call attention to this serious condition.

在《魅力》(Glamour)杂志4月刊中,模特克丽茜·泰根(Chrissy Teigen)成了最新一位宣布自己患上产后抑郁症的名人。在她之前,还有阿黛尔(Adele)、格温妮丝·帕特洛(Gwyneth Paltrow)、波姬·小丝(Brooke Shields),及其他利用自身的平台呼吁人们关注这个严重问题的杰出女性。

Postpartum depression is an underdiagnosed and undertreated public health issue that affects 10 to 15 percent of mothers. But many other mothers may still be struggling with the transition to motherhood.


Consider the Instagram image of the pregnant and postpartum supermom: a nurturing, organized, sexy-but-modest multitasker who glows during prenatal yoga and seems unfazed by the challenges of leaking breasts, dirty laundry and sleep training. This woman is a fiction. She’s an unrealistic example of perfection that makes other women feel inadequate when they pursue and can’t achieve that impossible standard.


As the Yale psychiatrist Rosemary H. Balsam showed in an article in February in the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, the history of psychiatrists ignoring how pregnancy impacts a woman’s development can be traced back to Freud. Women are often left with a false binary: They either have postpartum depression or they should breeze through the transition to motherhood.

就像耶鲁大学精神病学家罗斯玛丽·H·鲍尔萨姆(Rosemary H. Balsam)在今年2月发表在《美国精神分析协会期刊》(Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association)的一篇论文中所展示的,精神病学家忽视怀孕对女性发展的影响的历史可以追溯至弗洛伊德(Freud)。女性往往会被错误地二元归类:要么患上产后抑郁症,要么轻松地完成向母亲角色的转变。

Knowing the causes of distress and feeling comfortable talking about them with others is critical to growing into a well-adjusted mother. It will help new mothers and those around them to acknowledge that while postpartum depression is an extreme manifestation of the transition to motherhood, even those who do not experience it are undergoing a significant transformation.