#83 Daniela Sieff on Meeting “The Death Mother” Archetype

One of the (many) shadow sides of living in a patriarchal world is the idealization of motherhood. Women are expected to be– and to want to be– intrinsically all-loving, all-nurturing mothers, regardless of our circumstances or individual dispositions. The inevitable failure to live up to this ideal leads to feelings of shame, inadequacy, and wonderings of “what’s wrong with me?”.

My conversation today with author, scholar, and speaker, Daniela F. Sieff, Ph.D., serves as a salve for these feelings. Through her studies of “The Death Mother” archetype (which she first discovered through working with the Jungian analyst Marian Woodman), Daniela helps to normalize these darker feelings that women can have towards their children- ranging anywhere from ambivalence to disgust. Daniela and I also speak about the impact this archetype has on those who are at the receiving end of it.

This conversation will particularly interest you if you were adopted, felt unwanted/neglected/or unloved by your mother or caregiver, grew up with a mother who was physically or emotionally abusive or absent, if you’re struggling with cancer, an addiction, eating disorder, or autoimmune disease, or if you have had an abortion, given a child up for adoption, or have felt ambivalent, or even resentful about being a mother at times.

It’s time to dispel the myth of the all-loving mother and to bring this shadow side of motherhood to the surface so we can give women the support and resources they need when they’re struggling.

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