The Drama of the Gifted Child p.102

In many analyses the patient’s wish to have a child is expressed during the first weeks or months. For a long time this wish was traced back to Oedipal wishes. This may well be correct. Nevertheless, the patient’s associations often show the narcissistic background to this wish very clearly.

For the patient this means: ‘I want to have somebody whom I can completely possess, and whom I can control (my mother always withdrew from me); somebody who will stay with me all the time and not only for four hours in the week. Right now I am nobody, but as a mother or a father I should be somebody, and others would value me more than they do now that I have no children.’ Or it may mean: ‘I want to give a child everything that I had to do without, he should be free, not have to deny himself, be able to develop freely. I want to give this chance to another human being.’

This second variation looks as though it were based on object relationships. But if that were so the patient would be able to take his time in fulfilling this wish – and to wait until he would be able to give from his abundance towards the end of his analysis. If however, this wish for a child at the beginning of the analysis cannot be delayed but shows such urgency, then it is rather an expression of the patient’s own great need.

Various aspects come together: 

  • The wish to have a mother who is available (the child as a new chance to achieve the good symbiosis, which the patient still seeks since he has never experienced it).
  • The hope that with this birth the patient may become truly alive (the child as symbol for the patient’s true self).
  • Unconscious communication about the patient’s own fate as a child, with the aid of compulsive repetition (the child as a rival sibling, and abandoned hope; the sibling’s birth had increased the patient’s loss of self, and with the birth of his child the patient would give up (for the time being) his hope of realizing his true self.


Alice Miller – The Drama of the Gifted Child p.102

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