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The Monster Within

The Hidden Side of Motherhood

Barbara Almond (Author)

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Mixed feelings about motherhood—uncertainty over having a child, fears of pregnancy and childbirth, or negative thoughts about one’s own children—are not just hard to discuss, they are a powerful social taboo. In this beautifully written book, Barbara Almond brings this troubling issue to light. She uncovers the roots of ambivalence, tells how it manifests in lives of women and their children, and describes a spectrum of maternal behavior—from normal feelings to highly disturbed mothering. In a society where perfection in parenting is the unattainable ideal, this compassionate book also shows how women can affect positive change in their lives.

Chapter 1. The Ubiquity of Maternal Ambivalence
Chapter 2. Motherlove: The Power of Maternal Desire
Chapter 3. The Subtle Ambivalence of the Too-Good Mother
Chapter 4. “Before the Beginning”: Women’s Fears of Monstrous Births
Chapter 5. Women’s Reproductive Fears: More Clinical Examples
Chapter 6. Rachel’s Story: Internalized Ambivalence and the Dangers of Hidden Guilt
Chapter 7. Whose Fault Is It? The Externalization of Ambivalence
Chapter 8. When Fears Are Realized
Chapter 9. From the Child’s Point of View
Chapter 10. Vampyric Mothering: From Stage Moms to Invasive Moms
Chapter 11. The Darkest Side of Motherhood: Child Murder
Chapter 12. What Happens Later: The Fate of Maternal Ambivalence
Chapter 13. What’s a Mother to Do?

Barbara Almond, M.D., is a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in private practice, a member of the faculty at the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, and Emeritus Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at Stanford University. She is coauthor of The Therapeutic Narrative: Fictional Relationships and the Process of Psychological Change.
“Just the thing for a gray and drizzly autumn afternoon. Drawing on her thirty-seven years of practice as a psychoanalyst as well as her own experiences as a mother, Almond leads an adventurous tour through the shadowy, secret parts of the mother’s psyche. . . An oddly compelling read.”—New Yorker
“Myth-shredding look at maternal ambivalence.”—Ms Magazine
“First, let me recommend this engrossing study to every new mother, old mother, good mother and bad mother. Sons, husbands, dads and lovers might profit from reading this, too. ‘The Monster Within’ addresses what everybody knows, but almost nobody talks about: Even the best mothers among us will be or have been tormented from time to time by strong feelings of dread, fear, hatred and even revulsion at the whole process of motherhood, as well as experiencing downright murderous feelings toward our children.”—Carolyn See Washington Post Book World
“Though it’s not a how-to for battling maternal ambivalence, The Monster Within is a smart, cohesive read, and a welcome respite from perfect-mother guidebooks. Recommended If: The last book you’d ever pick up is one about motherhood.”—Bitch
“Takes on the taboo of maternal ambivalence. . . . Almond, a psychoanalyst, offers an optimistic message about the roots of these mixed emotions.”—The Washington Post
“Almond has given mothers everywhere a gift: freedom from the chains of the myth of the perfect mother. Being a ‘good enough’ mother is…good enough. Mothers, soon-to-be mothers, and people who have mothers will read this book and breathe a collective sigh of relief.”—Foreword
“Almond has given mothers everywhere a gift: freedom from the chains of the myth of the perfect mother. Being a “good enough” mother is…good enough. Mothers, soon-to-be mothers, and people who have mothers will read this book and breathe a collective sigh of relief.”—Foreword
“The text has clear value as a cautionary tale of what can go wrong when we refuse to acknowledge maternal ambivalence. . . . Recognizing the normalcy of these feelings and their appropriate manifestation will serve the public health by freeing mothers from fear, doubt, and guilt. This well-written text draws one to the ultimate conclusion that we must accept maternal ambivalence as a normative adaptation in order to encourage growth and development of children and mothers.”—Psyccritiques
“Should be included with every copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”—
"Psychoanalysis has always addressed the monster within: conflicts, fears, and those unacceptable feelings of anger, envy, and hatred with which we all grapple. Such feelings are particularly scary for mothers, and Dr. Barbara Almond, an experienced psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, shows us how and why this is so. The Monster Within presents richly nuanced and detailed cases that give the reader a sense of what these difficult feelings of ambivalence are, as they are experienced day to day, consciously and unconsciously. Her expertly presented material provides the lively underpinning of this compelling book."—Nancy J. Chodorow, author of The Reproduction of Mothering

"The Monster Within is a gripping book. Dr. Almond's fresh insights and perspectives regarding maternal ambivalence help us to become more comfortable with these feelings. This book is enormously useful to mothers, clinicians and anyone else interested in the psychology of motherhood."—Daphne de Marneffe, author of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life

"Barbara Almond's book is a wonderful new resource for helping mothers, especially new mothers, to tolerate that love between them and their children must be burdened by resentment. Her evocative clinical and literary stories make ambivalence a bit easier for mothers to bear. This is essential reading for mothers, in psychotherapy or not, for fathers, and for therapists, including male therapists who will become better able to see women's bodies and motherhood from a woman's perspective."—Stanley Coen, M.D., author of Affect Intolerance in Patient and Analyst

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