The Myth of the Bad Mother

Jane Swigart, Author
Jane Swigart, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-385-26295-8
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
The personal life of California psychologist Swigart, her patients' case histories and literary sources make up the colorful but confusing text. Arguing that abusive mothers are a reality, the author, herself a wife and mother, devotes her study to mothers who feel overwhelmed by their intricate duties and worry that they are failing their children. There are also data on mothers who are probably unintentionally ``bad,'' emphasized in quotes from Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, who became suicidal perhaps partly because of their mother's mistakes. Swigart describes as well women who confess to sins of both commission and omission against their children, a contradiction to the ``myth of the bad mother.'' This is the vital core, almost buried in hyperbole, of the author's message--that mothers who work outside as well as inside the home deserve empathy. (Mar.)
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