Quite severe damage to the child’s psyche occurs when the mother has no feelings for her child, so she neglects it emotionally, does not care for it, does not deal with it, is harsh towards it, openly shows that she is bothered, that she does not love it. The child experiences a lack of motherly love even when it feels that the mother neglects it with regard to other children, that she underestimates it and does not consider it as valuable as its siblings.
The consequences of a lack of maternal love are very similar to the consequences of a complete deficit of parental warmth. The mother is the main bearer of a healthy emotional atmosphere in the family; if it fails, it will be difficult for anyone to replace it satisfactorily. If the father or another adult family member makes an effort to show sympathy for the child, this cannot prevent the very negative impact of the mother’s emotional coldness towards the child. In such a situation, the child’s personality acquires psychopathic characteristics of various intensities and shapes.
A young woman forcibly wanted a male child. During her pregnancy, she said she could never imagine giving birth to a baby girl. She gave birth to a girl after all. Even during their stay in the maternity hospital, they had to separate the child because she threatened to strangle it. Later, she somehow came to terms with the fact that she had a daughter and not a son, but she no longer wanted to work with the fear that she will give birth to another girl. And she openly told her daughter that she didn’t love her, that she didn’t want her, that she would be glad if she wasn’t there, that she wasn’t happy to have her. The father loves his daughter and tries to prevent the woman from expressing hatred, but he fails. His wife resents him and because of that she quarrels with him.
We first saw the girl when she was 11 years old. She visited us because of poor school performance. She achieved very good results in the first grade, but later received lower and lower grades, only to fail completely in the fifth grade. School failure despite average intelligence was the result of growing apathy, depression and discouragement. Her mother’s emotional rejection increasingly deprived her of self-confidence, so she did not find the psychic energy in herself to persistently master the school material.
We saw her again after 10 years. She was a grown girl now. She still lived with her parents, with a mother who hated her. With difficulty and lagging behind, she somehow finished elementary school, then a typing course, and then settled in a company. But her life is gray. She is always in a gloomy mood, she has no real interest in anything, she is apathetic and passive. She has no strength to break apart from her parents and start her own life, and she suffers from her mother’s emotional repulsion, which can no longer be alleviated by her now ill and always grumpy father. The girl would like to find happiness in life, would love company, would like to get married and start a family. But in contact with people, she is timid, difficult to adapt to, distrustful, and too reserved, so she acts repulsive. That is why no one is happy to accept her into their circle, and young men are also rejected by her inaccessibility. Unhappy about all this, the girl turned to us for advice. Here we have met a severely neurotic personality that was deeply damaged by her mother’s persistent emotional rejection.
This mother would have been much better off if she had given birth to a son. There are quite a number of women who intensely want their child to be of a certain gender. Usually, the reason for this is a disorder in the attitude towards one’s own or the other sex. We often meet women who are dissatisfied with their gender because they consider it less valuable, by nature destined to be unhappy, overwhelmed by life’s adversities and exposed to all possible disappointments. In this case, it is unlikely that the woman will want a child which will live a tough life; she is much more likely to want a son in order to spare her child the “difficult fate” of a woman. Sometimes aversion to one’s own sex reaches the proportions of true hatred. Then there is a danger that the mother will hate her child if it is female. If the mother also has a boy, she will probably give him an advantage over his sister in everything. She will pay no attention to, belittle and emotionally neglect her daughter. It is understood that the girl will develop with great mental difficulties, and neurotic traits will inevitably appear in her personality.
An unhealthy woman’s attitude towards the relationship between the sexes can also be manifested in her ardent desire to give birth to a girl, and in her fear of having a son. Behind such an aspiration probably hides a negative attitude towards men, deep mistrust and fear of the male sex, of its superiority, intrusiveness and aggression. If such a mother gives birth to a son, then he is endangered in the formation of his personality, and his eventual sister will attract all the mother’s attention.
The mother’s hatred of the child of either sex can also be motivated by other factors, such as the striking physical resemblance or coincidence of temperament with the unloved husband or his relatives. The sensitive relationship among spouses is always projected to some extent on their children. Happy parents are happy to find in a child a resemblance to a spouse, another who is the source of their life happiness. But dissatisfied partners are reluctant to find that any more noticeable traits of the spouse that has disappointed them continue in their child.